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Title: Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke.

Author: Edmund Burke

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"Id dico, eum qui sit orator, virum bonum esse oportere. In omnibus quae
dicit tanta auctoritas inest, ut dissentire pudeat; nec advocati
studium, sed testis aut judicis afferat fidem."--Quintilianus.

"Democracy is the most monstrous of all governments, because it is
impossible at once to act and control; and, consequently, the Sovereign
Power is then left without any restraint whatever. That form of
government is the best which places the efficient direction in the hands
of the aristocracy, subjecting them in its exercise to the control of
the people at large."--Sir James Mackintosh.


The intellectual homage of more than half a century has assigned to
Edmund Burke a lofty pre-eminence in the aristocracy of mind, and we may
justly assume succeeding ages will confirm the judgment which the Past
has thus pronounced. His biographical history is so popularly known,
that it is almost superfluous to record it in this brief introduction.
It may, however, be summed up in a few sentences. He was born at Dublin
in 1730. His father was an attorney in extensive practice, and his
mother's maiden name was Nogle, whose family was respectable, and
resided near Castletown, Roche, where Burke himself received five years
of boyish education under the guidance of a rustic schoolmaster. He was
entered at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1746, but only remained there
until 1749. In 1753 he became a member of the Middle Temple, and
maintained himself chiefly by literary toil. Bristol did itself the
honour to elect him for her representative in 1774, and after years of
splendid usefulness and mental triumph, as an orator, statesman, and
patriot, he retired to his favourite retreat, Beaconsfield, in
Buckinghamshire, where he died on July 9th, 1797. He was buried here;
and the pilgrim who visits the grave of this illustrious man, when he
gazes on the simple tomb which marks the earthly resting?place of
himself, brother, son, and widow, may feelingly recall his own pathetic
wish uttered some forty years before, in London:--"I would rather sleep
in the southern corner of a little country churchyard, than in the tomb
of the Capulets. I should like, however, that my dust should mingle with
kindred dust. The good old expression, 'family burying?ground,' has
something pleasing in it, at least to me." Alluding to his approaching
dissolution, he thus speaks, in a letter addressed to a relative of his
earliest schoolmaster:--"I have been at Bath these four months for no
purpose, and am therefore to be removed to my own house at Beaconsfield
to-morrow, to be nearer a habitation more permanent, humbly and
fearfully hoping that my better part may find a better mansion." It is a
source of deep thankfulness for those who reverence the genius and
eloquence of this great man, to state, that Burke's religion was that of
the Cross, and to find him speaking of the "Intercession" of our
Redeeming Lord, as "what he had long sought with unfeigned anxiety, and
to which he looked with trembling hope." The commencing paragraph in his
Will also authenticates the genuine character of his personal
Christianity. "According to the ancient, good, and laudable custom, of
which my heart and understanding recognise the propriety, I BEQUEATH MY
AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST. My body I desire to be buried in the church of
Beaconsfield, near to the bodies of my dearest brother, and my dearest
son, in all humility praying, that as we have lived in perfect unity
together, we may together have part in the resurrection of the just."
(In the "Epistolary Correspondence of the Right Hon. Edmund Burke and
Dr. French Laurence" (Rivingtons, London, 1827), are several touching
allusions to that master?grief which threw a mournful shadow over the
closing period of Burke's life. In one letter the anxious father says,
"The fever continues much as it was. He sleeps in a very uneasy way from
time to time?-but his strength decays visibly, and his voice is, in a
manner, gone. But God is all?sufficient?-and surely His goodness and his
mother's prayers may do much" (page 30). Again, in another communication
addressed to his revered correspondent, we find a beautiful allusion to
his departed son, which involves his belief in that most soothing
doctrine of the Church,--a recognition of souls in the kingdom of the
Beatified. "Here I am in the last retreat of hunted infirmity; I am
indeed 'aux abois.' But, as through the whole of a various and long life
I have been more indebted than thankful to Providence, so I am now
singularly so, in being dismissed, as hitherto I appear to be, so gently

In reference to the intellectual grandeur, the eloquent genius, and
prophetic wisdom of Burke, which have caused his writings to become
oracles for future statesmen to consult, it is quite unnecessary for
contemporary criticism to speak. By the concurring judgment, both of
political friends and foes, as well as by the highest arbiters of taste
throughout the civilized world, Burke has been pronounced, not only
"primus inter pares," but "facile omnium princeps." At the termination
of these introductory remarks, the reader will be presented with
critical portraitures of Burke from the writings and speeches of men,
who, while opposed to him in their principles of legislative policy,
with all the chivalry and candour of genius paid a noble homage to the
vastness and variety of his unrivalled powers. Meanwhile, it may not be
presumptuous for a writer, on an occasion like the present, to
contemplate this great man under certain aspects, which, perhaps, are
not sufficiently regarded in their DISTINCTIVE bearings on the worth and
wisdom of his character and writings. We say "distinctive," because the
eloquence of Burke, beyond that of all other orators and statesmen which
Great Britain has produced, is featured with expressions, and
characterised by qualities, as peculiar as they are immortal. So far as
invention, imagination, moral fervour, and metaphorical richness of
illustration, combined with that intense "pathos and ethos," which the
Roman critic describes ("Huc igitur incumbat orator: hoc opus ejus, hic
labor est; sine quo caetera nuda, jejuna, infirma, ingrata sunt: adeo
velut spiritus operis hujus atque animus est IN AFFECTIBUS. Horum autem,
sicut antiquitus traditum accepimus, duae sunt species: alteram Graeci
pathos vocant, quem nos vertentes recte ac proprie AFFECTUM dicimus;
alteram ethos, cujus nomine (ut ego quidem sentio) caret sermo Romanus,
mores appellantur."--Quintilian, "Instit. Orat." lib. vi. cap. 2.) as
essential to the true orator, are concerned, the author of "Reflections
on the French Revolution," and "Letters on a Regicide Peace," is justly
admired and appreciated. Moreover, if what we understand by the
"sublime" in eloquence has ever been embodied, the speeches and writings
of Burke appear to have been drawn from those five sources ("pegai") to
which Longinus alludes. In the 8th chapter of his fragment "On the
Sublime," he observes, that if we assume an ability for speaking well,
as a common basis, there are five copious fountains from whence
sublimity in eloquence may be said to flow; viz.

1. Boldness and grandeur of thought.

2. The pathetic, or the power of exciting the passions into an
enthusiastic reach and noble degree.

3. A skilful application of figures, both from sentiment and language.

4. A graceful, finished, and ornate style, embellished by tropes and

5. Lastly, as that which completes all the rest,--the structure of
periods, in dignity and grandeur.

These five sources of the sublime, the same philosophical critic
distinguishes into two classes; the first two he asserts to be gifts of
nature, and the remaining three are considered to depend, in a great
measure, upon literature and art. Again, if we may linger for a moment
in the attractive region of classical authorship, how justly applicable
are the words of Cicero in his "De Oratore," to the vastness and variety
of Burke's attainments! "Ac mea quidem sententia, nemo poterit esse omni
laude cumulatus orator, nisi erit OMNIUM RERUM MAGNARUM ATQUE ARTIUM
SCIENTIAM CONSECUTUS."--Cic. "De Orat." lib. i. cap. 6. Equally
descriptive of Burke's power in raising the dormant sensibilities of our
moral nature by his intuitive perception of what that nature really and
fundamentally is, are the following expressions of the same great
authority:--"Quis enim nescit, maximam vim existere oratoris, in hominum
mentibus vel ad iram aut ad odium, aut dolorem incitandis, vel, ab
hisce, iisdem permonitionibus, ad lenitatem misericordiamque revocandis?
cap. 12.

But to return. If a critical analysis of Burke, as an exhibition of
genius, be attempted, his characteristic endowments may, probably, be
not incorrectly represented by the following succinct statement.

1. Endless variety in connection with exhaustless vigour of mind.

2. A lofty power of generalisation, both in speculative views and in his
argumentative process.

3. Vivid intensity of conception, which caused abstractions to stand out
with almost living force and visible feature, in his impassioned

4. An imagination of oriental luxuriance, whose incessant play in
tropes, metaphors, and analogies, frequently causes his speeches to
gleam on the intellectual eye, as Aeschylus says the ocean does, when
the Sun irradiates its bosom with the "anerithmon gelasma" of countless
beams. 5. His positive acquirements in all the varied realms of art,
science, and literature, endowed him with such vast funds of knowledge
(In the wealth of his multitudinous acquirements, Burke seems to realise
Cicero's ideal of what a perfect orator should know:--"Equidem omnia,
quae pertinent ad usum civium, morem hominum, quae versantur in
consuetudine vitae, in ratione reipublicae, in hac societate civili, in
sensu hominum communi, in natura, in moribus, co hendenda esse oratori
puto."--Cicero "De Orat." lib. ii. cap. 16.), that Johnson declared of
Burke--"Enter upon what subject you will, and Burke is ready to meet

6. In addition to these high gifts, may be added, an ability to wield
the weapons of sarcasm and irony, with a keenness of application and
effect rarely equalled. But, in all candour, it may be added, that just
as a profusion of figures and metaphors sometimes tempted this great
orator into incongruous images and coarse analogies, so his passion for
irony was occasionally too intense. Hence, there are occasions where his
pungency is embittered into acrimony, strength degenerates into
vulgarism, and the vehemence of satire is infuriated with the fierceness
of invective.

7. With regard to language and style, it may be truly said, they were
the absolute vassals of his Genius, and did homage to its command in
every possible mode by which it chose to employ them. Thus, in his
"Letters on a Regicide Peace," and above all, in "French Revolutions,"
the reader will find almost every conceivable manner of style and mode
of expression the English language can develop; and what is
more,--together with classical richness, there are also the pointed
seriousness and persuasive simplicity of our own vernacular Saxon, which
increase the attractions of Burke's style to a wonderful extent. But,
beyond controversy, among these great endowments, the imaginative
faculty is that which appears to be the most transcendent in the mental
constitution of Burke. And so truly is this the case, that both among
his contemporaries, as well as among his successors, this predominance
of imagination has caused his just claims as a philosophic thinker and
statesman to be partially overlooked. The union of ideal theory and
practical realisation, of imaginative creation with logical induction,
is indeed so rare, we cannot be surprised at the injustice which the
genius of Burke has had to endure in this respect. And yet, in the
nature of our faculties themselves, there exists no necessity why a
vivid power to conceive ideas, should NOT be combined with a dialectic
skill in expressing them. Degerando, an admirable French writer, in one
of his Treatises, has some profound observations on this subject; and
does not hesitate to define poetry itself as a species of "logique

But when we assert that these excellencies, which have thus been
succinctly exhibited, characterise the mental constitution of Burke, we
do not mean that others have not, in their degree, possessed similar
endowments. Such an inference would be an absurd extravagance. But what
we mean to affirm is--the qualifications enumerated have never been
combined into co-operative harmony, and developed in proportionable
effect, as they appear in the speeches and writings of this wonderful
man. But after all, we have not reached what may be considered a
peerless excellence, the peculiar gift,--the one great and glorious
distinction, which separates Burke's oratory from that of all others,
and which has caused his speeches to be blended with political History,
and to incorporate themselves with the moral destiny of Europe,--namely,
statement may be verified, by comparing the eloquence of Burke with
specimens of departed orators; or by a reference to existing standards
in the parliamentary debates. Compared, then, either with the speeches
of Chatham, Holland, Pitt, Fox, etc. etc., we perceive at once the grand
distinction to which we refer. These illustrious men were effective
debaters, and, in various senses, orators of surpassing excellency. But
how is it, that with all their allowed grandeur of intellect and
political eminence, they have ceased to operate upon the hearts and
minds of the present Age, either as teachers of political Truth, or
oracles of legislative Wisdom? Simply, BECAUSE they were too popular in
temporary effect, ever to become influential by permanent inspiration.
In their highest moods, and amid their noblest hours of triumph, they
were "of the earth earthy." Party; personality; crushing rejoinders, or
satirical attacks; a felicitous exposure of inconsistency, or a
triumphant self-vindication; brilliant repartees, and logical
gladiatorship,--such are among the prominent characteristics which
caused parliamentary debates in Burke's day to be so animating and
interesting to those who heard, or perused them, amid the excitements of
the hour. It is not to be denied that commanding eloquence, vast genius,
political ardour, intellectual enthusiasm, together with indignant
denunciation and argumentative subtlety, were thus summoned into
exercise by the perils of the Nation, and the contentions of Party.
Nevertheless, the local, the temporal, the conventional, and the
individual, in all which relates to the science of politics or the
tactics of partisanship,--are sufficient to excite and employ the
energies and qualities which made the general parliamentary debates of
Burke's period so captivating. But when we revert to his own speeches
and writings, we at once perceive WHY, as long as the mind can
comprehend what is true, the heart appreciate what is pure, or the
conscience authenticate the sanction of heaven and the distinctions
between right and wrong,--Edmund Burke will continue to be admired,
revered, and consulted, not only as the greatest of English orators, but
as the profoundest teacher of political Science. It was not that he
despised the arrangement of facts, or overlooked the minutiae of detail;
on the contrary, as may be proved by his speeches on "economical
reform," and Warren Hastings; in these respects his research was
boundless, and his industry inexhaustible. Moreover, he was quite alive
to the claims of a crisis, and with the coolness and calm of a practical
statesman, knew how to confront a sudden emergency, and to contend with
a gigantic difficulty. Yet all these qualifications recede before
Burke's amazing power of expanding particulars into universals, and of
associating the accidents of a transient discussion with the essential
properties of some permanent Law in policy, or abstract Truth in morals.
His genius looked through the local to the universal; in the temporal
perceived the eternal; and while facing the features of the Individual,
was enabled to contemplate the attributes of a Race. (Cicero, in many
respects a counterpart of Burke, both in statesmanship and oratory,
appears to recognise what is here expressed when he says:--"Plerique duo
genera ad dicendum dederunt; UNUM DE CERTA DEFINITAQUE CAUSA, quales
sunt quae in litibus, quae in deliberationibus versantur;--alterum, quod
appellant omnes fere scriptores, explicat nemo, INFINITAM GENERIS SINE
TEMPORE, ET SINE PERSONA quaestionem."--"De Orat." lib. ii. cap. 15.)
Hence his speeches are virtual prophecies; and his writings a storehouse
of pregnant axioms and predictive enunciations, as limitless in their
range as they are undying in duration. In one word, no speeches
delivered in the English Parliament, are so likely to be eternalized as
Burke's, because he has combined with his treatment of some especial
case or contingency before him, the assertion of immutable Principles,
which can be detached from what is local and national, and thus made to
stand forth alone in all the naked grandeur of their truth and their
tendency. Let us be permitted to investigate this topic a little
further. If, then, what Quintilian asserted of the Roman orator may be
applied to our own British Cicero,--"Ille se profecisse sciat, cui
Cicero valde placebit;" and if, moreover, this pre-eminence be chiefly
discovered in Burke's instinctive grasp of that moral essence which is
incorporated with all questions of political Science, and social
Ethics--from WHENCE came this diviner energy of his Genius? No believer
in Christian revelation will hesitate to appropriate, even to this
subject, the apostolic axiom, "EVERY good gift, and EVERY perfect gift
is from above." But while we subscribe with reverential sincerity to
this announcement, it is equally true, that the Infinite Inspirer of all
good adjusts His secret energies by certain laws, and condescends to
work by analogous means. Bearing this in mind, we venture to think
Burke's gift of almost prescient insight into the recesses of our common
nature, and his consummate faculty of instructing the Future through the
medium of the Present,--were partly derived from the elevation of his
sentiments, and the purity of his private life. (The action and reaction
maintained between our moral and intellectual elements is but remotely
discussed by Quintilian in his "Institutes." But still, in more than one
passage, he most impressively declares, that mental proficiency is
greatly retarded by perversity of heart and will. For instance, on one
occasion we find him speaking thus:--"Nihil enim est tam occupatum, tam
multiforme, tot ac tam variis affectibus concisum, atque laceratum, quam
mala ac improba mens. Quis inter haec, literis, aut ulli bonae arti,
locus? Non hercle magis quam frugibus, in terra sentibus ac rubis
occupata."--"Nothing is so flurried and agitated, so self?contradictory,
or so violently rent and shattered by conflicting passions, as a bad
heart. In the distractions which it produces, what room is there for the
cultivation of letters, or the pursuits of any honourable art?
Assuredly, no more than there is for the growth of corn in a field
overrun with thorns and brambles.") It would be unwise to draw invidious
comparisons, but no student of the period in which Burke was in
Parliament, can deny that, compared with SOME of his illustrious
contemporaries, he was indeed a model of what reason and conscience
alike approve in all the relative duties and personal conduct of a man,
when beheld in his domestic career. It is, indeed, a source of deep
thankfulness, the admirer of Burke's genius in public, has no reason to
blush for his character in private; and that when we have listened to
his matchless oratory upon the arena of the House of Commons, we have
not to mourn over dissipation, impurity, and depravity amid the circles
of private history. Our theory, then, is, that beyond what his
distinctive genius inspired, Burke's wondrous power of enunciating
everlasting principles and of associating the loftiest abstractions of
wisdom with the commonest themes of the hour,--was sustained and
strengthened by the purity of his heart, and the subjection of passion
to the law of conscience. And if the worshippers of mere intellect,
apart from, or as opposed to, moral elevation, are inclined to ridicule
this view of Burke's genius, we beg to remind them, that "One greater
than the Temple" of mortal Wisdom, and all the idols enshrined therein,
has asserted a positive connection to exist between mental insight and
moral purity. We allude to the Redeemer's words, when He declares,--"If
any man WILLS to do His will, he shall KNOW of the doctrine." HOW the
passions act upon our perceptions, and by what process the motions of
the Will elevate or depress the forces of the Intellect, is beyond our
metaphysics to analyse. But that there exists a real, active, and
influential connection between our moral and mental life, is undeniable:
and since Burke's power of seizing the essential Idea, or fundamental
Principle of every complex detail which came before him, was
pre-eminently his gift,--the intellectual insight such gift developed,
was not only an expression of senatorial wisdom, but also a witness for
the elevation of his moral character. We must now allude to the public
conduct of Burke, as a Statesman and Politician, and only regret the
limited range of a popular essay confines us to one view, namely, his
alleged inconsistency. There WAS a period when charges of apostasy were
brought against him with reckless audacity: but Time, the instructor of
ignorance, and the subduer of prejudice, is now beginning to place the
conduct of Burke in its true light. The facts of the case are briefly
these. Up to the period of 1791, Fox and Burke fought in the same rank
of opposition, and stood together upon a basis of complete identity in
principle and sentiment. But even before the celebrated disruption of
1791, the progress of Republicanism in America, and the approaching
separation of the colonies from their parent state, Burke's views of
political liberty had received extensive modifications; and the ardour
of his confidence in the so?called friends of freedom had been greatly
cooled. But in 1791, the disruption between Burke and Fox became open,
absolute, and final, when the latter statesman uttered, in the hearing
of his friend, this fearful eulogium on the French Revolution:--"The new
constitution of France is the most stupendous and glorious edifice of
liberty which had been erected on the foundation of human integrity in
any age or country!" (That ancient Sage unto whose political wisdom
frequent reference has been made in this essay, thus speaks on the
reverence due unto an existing government, even when contemplated from
its weakest side:--"Formidable as these arguments seem, they may be
opposed by others of not less weight; arguments which prove that even
the rust of government is to be respected, and that its fabric is never
to be touched but with a fearful and trembling hand. When the evil of
persevering in hereditary institutions is small, it ought always to be
endured, because the evil of departing from them is certainly very
great. Slight imperfections, therefore, whether in the laws themselves,
or in those who administer and execute the laws, ought always to be
overlooked, because they cannot be corrected without occasioning a much
greater mischief, and tending to weaken that reverence which the safety
of all governments requires that the citizens at large should entertain,
cultivate, and cherish for the hereditary institutions of their country.
The comparison drawn from the improvement of arts does not apply to the
amendment of laws. To change or improve an art, and to alter or amend a
law, are things as dissimilar in their operation as different in their
tendency; for laws operate as practical principles of moral action; and,
like all the rules of morality, derive their force and efficacy, as even
the name imports, from the customary repetition of habitual acts, and
the slow operation of time. Every alteration of the laws, therefore,
tends to subvert that authority on which the persuasive agency of all
laws is founded, and to abridge, weaken, and destroy the power of the
law itself."--Aristotle's "Politics.") The reply of Burke to this burst
of Jacobinism, with all its consequences in the political history of
Europe, is far too well known to be quoted here. But, since it was at
this point in the career of Burke the charge of apostasy was commenced,
and which has never quite died away, even in existing times, we may be
permitted, first, to cite a noble passage from Burke's self?vindication;
and secondly, to adduce a still more impressive evidence of his
political rectitude and wisdom, derived from the admission of those who
were once his uncompromising opponents. In relation to the attacks of
Fox upon his supposed inconsistency, Mr. Burke thus replies:--

"I pass to the next head of charge,--Mr. Burke's inconsistency. It is
certainly a great aggravation of his fault in embracing false opinions,
that in doing so he is not supposed to fill up a void, but that he is
guilty of a dereliction of opinions that are true and laudable. This is
the great gist of the charge against him. It is not so much that he is
wrong in his book (that however is alleged also), as that he has therein
belied his whole life. I believe, if he could venture to value himself
upon anything, it is on the virtue of consistency that he would value
himself the most. Strip him of this, and you leave him naked indeed.

"In the case of any man who had written something, and spoken a great
deal, upon very multifarious matter, during upwards of twenty?five
years' public service, and in as great a variety of important events as
perhaps have ever happened in the same number of years, it would appear
a little hard, in order to charge such a man with inconsistency, to see
collected by his friend, a sort of digest of his sayings, even to such
as were merely sportive and jocular. This digest, however, has been
made, with equal pains and partiality, and without bringing out those
passages of his writings which might tend to show with what restrictions
any expressions, quoted from him, ought to have been understood. From a
great statesman he did not quite expect this mode of inquisition. If it
only appeared in the works of common pamphleteers, Mr. Burke might
safely trust to his reputation. When thus urged, he ought, perhaps, to
do a little more. It shall be as little as possible, for I hope not much
is wanting. To be totally silent on his charges would not be respectful
to Mr. Fox. Accusations sometimes derive a weight from the persons who
make them, to which they are not entitled for their matter. "A man who,
among various objects of his equal regard, is secure of some, and full
of anxiety for the fate of others, is apt to go to much greater lengths
in his preference of the objects of his immediate solicitude than Mr.
Burke has ever done. A man so circumstanced often seems to undervalue,
to vilify, almost to reprobate and disown, those that are out of danger.
This is the voice of nature and truth, and not of inconsistency and
false pretence. The danger of anything very dear to us removes, for the
moment, every other affection from the mind. When Priam had his whole
thoughts employed on the body of his Hector, he repels with indignation,
and drives from him with a thousand reproaches, his surviving sons, who
with an officious piety crowded about him to offer their assistance. A
good critic (there is no better than Mr. Fox) would say, that this is a
master?stroke, and marks a deep understanding of nature in the father of
poetry. He would despise a Zoilus, who would conclude from this passage
that Homer meant to represent this man of affliction as hating, or being
indifferent and cold in his affections to the poor relics of his house,
or that he preferred a dead carcass to his living children.

"Mr. Burke does not stand in need of an allowance of this kind, which,
if he did, by candid critics ought to be granted to him. If the
principles of a mixed constitution be admitted, he wants no more to
justify to consistency everything he has said and done during the course
of a political life just touching to its close. I believe that gentleman
has kept himself more clear of running into the fashion of wild,
visionary theories, or of seeking popularity through every means, than
any man perhaps ever did in the same situation.

"He was the first man who, on the hustings, at a popular election,
rejected the authority of instructions from constituents; or who, in any
place, has argued so fully against it. Perhaps the discredit into which
that doctrine of compulsive instructions under our constitution is since
fallen, may be due, in a great degree, to his opposing himself to it in
that manner, and on that occasion.

"The reformers in representation, and the Bills for shortening the
duration of Parliaments, he uniformly and steadily opposed for many
years together, in contradiction to many of his best friends. These
friends, however, in his better days, when they had more to hope from
his service and more to fear from his loss than now they have, never
chose to find any inconsistency between his acts and expressions in
favour of liberty, and his votes on those questions. But there is a time
for all things." We need not, however, confine our vindication of Burke
to his own eloquence, but invite the especial attention of his accusers
and defamers unto two forgotten facts: 1st. A few weeks before Fox died,
he dictated a despatch to Lord Yarmouth, which confirmed all the policy
for which Pitt for fifteen years had contended: moreover, in a debate on
Wyndham's "Military System," 1806, Fox thus delivered his own
recantation:--"Indeed, by the circumstances of Europe, I AM READY TO
consider this any inconsistency, because I see no rational prospect of
any peace, which would exempt us from the necessity of watchful
preparation and powerful establishment." But the change of Fox's
opinions, and their similarity to those maintained by Pitt, with
reference to our war with France, are by no means ALL which history can
produce in justification of Burke's political wisdom and consistency.
The whole civilized world has read the "Reflections on the French
Revolution," whose sale, in one year, achieved the enormous number of
30,000 copies, in connection with medals or marks of honour from almost
every Court in Europe. Now, of all the replies made to this masterpiece
of reasoning and reflection, Mackintosh's "Vindiciae Gallicae" was
incontestably the ablest and profoundest. And yet, the greatest of all
his intellectual opponents thus addresses Burke, as appears from
"Memoirs" of Mackintosh, volume i. page 87:--"The enthusiasm with which
I once embraced the instruction conveyed in your writings is now ripened
into solid conviction by the experience and conviction of more mature
ventured to oppose, without ceasing to venerate, that writer who had
nourished my understanding with the most wholesome principles of
political wisdom...Since that time, A MELANCHOLY EXPERIENCE HAS
ENTHUSIASM." Let us part from this branch of our subject by quoting
Burke's own words, uttered, as it were, on the very brink of eternity.
They attest, to the latest moment of his life, with what a sacred
intensity and unflinching sincerity he clung to his original sentiments
touching the French Revolution. Nor let the present writer shrink from
adding, they constitute but one of the many specimens of that
instinctive prescience, whereby this profoundest of philosophical
statesmen was enabled to herald from afar the final triumphs of courage,
patriotism, and truth. The passage occurs towards the conclusion of his
"Letters on a Regicide Peace," and is as follows:--"Never succumb. It is
a struggle for your existence as a nation. If you must die, die with the
sword in your hand. But I have no fear whatever for the result. There is
a salient living principle of energy in the public mind of England,
which only requires proper direction to enable her to withstand this, or
any other ferocious foe. Persevere, therefore, till this tyranny be

If from the glare of public history, we follow this great man into the
shades of domestic seclusion, or watch the features of his social
character unfolding themselves in the varied circle which he graced by
his presence, or dignified by his worth,--he is alike the object of
respectful esteem and love. Warmth of heart, chivalry of sentiment, and
that true high?breeding which springs from the soul rather than a
pedigree, eminently characterise the history of Burke in private life.
Above all, a sympathising tendency for the children of Genius, and a
catholic largeness of view in all which relates unto mental effort,
combined with the utmost charity for human failings and
infirmities,--cannot but endear him to our deepest affections, while his
unrivalled endowments command our highest admiration. To illustrate what
is here alluded to, let the reader recall Burke's noble generosity
towards that erratic victim of genius and grief,--the painter Barry; or
his instantaneous sympathy in behalf of Crabbe the poet, when almost a
foodless wanderer in our vast metropolis; and our estimate of Burke's
excellencies as a man, will not be deemed overdrawn.

It now remains for the selector of the following pages to offer a few
remarks on their nature, and design. Accustomed, from the earliest
period of his mental life to read and study the writings of Edmund
Burke, he has long wished that such a selection as now appears, should
be published. The works of Burke extend through a vast range of large
volumes; and it is feared thousands have been deterred from holding
communion with a master?spirit of British literature, by the magnitude
of his labours. Hence, a concentrated specimen of his intellect may not
only tempt the "reading public" (Coleridge's horror, yet an author's
friend!) to study some of Burke's noblest passages, but even ultimately
to introduce them into a full acquaintance with his entire products. Let
it be distinctly understood, the selection now published, is not a
second-hand one, grafted on some pre-existing volume; but the result of
a diligent, careful, and analytical perusal of Burke's writings. In
attempting such a work, there was one difficulty, which none but those
who have intimately studied this great orator can appreciate,--we allude
to the giving general titles, or descriptive headings, to passages
selected for quotation. There is a mental fulness, a moral variety, and
such a rapid transition of idea, in most of Burke's speeches, that it
almost baffles ability to abbreviate the spirit of his paragraphs, so as
to exhibit under some general head the bearing of the whole. The
selector, in this respect, can only say, he has done his best; and those
who are most competent to appreciate difficulty, will be least inclined
to criticise failure.

Finally, as to the leading design of this volume, its title, "First
Principles," is sufficiently descriptive to save much explanation. Burke
represents an unrivalled combination of patriot, senator, and orator;
and as such, the moral and intellectual nature of the Age will be
purified and expanded, when brought into contact with the attributes of
his character, and the productions of his mind. Nor can the meditative
statesman, whose party is his country, and whose political creed is
based upon a true philosophy of human nature, forget,--that while the
French revolution, as involving FACTS, belongs to History, as enclosing
PRINCIPLES, it appertains to Humanity: and hence, the abiding
application of Burke's profound views, not only to France and England,
but to the world. Of course, those who reverence the majesty of
eloquence, and are fascinated by a florid richness of style, boundless
imagination, inexhaustible metaphor, and all the attending graces of
consummate rhetoric, will also be charmed by the appropriate supply
these pages afford. But, without seeking to be homiletical, let the
writer be permitted to add, a far higher purpose than mere literary
amusement, or the gratification of taste, is designed by the present
volume. It is the selector's most earnest hope, that the "First
Principles" these pages so eloquently inculcate, may be transcribed in
all their purity, loftiness, and truth, into the Reason and Conscience
of his countrymen. And among these, for whose especial guidance he
ventures to think the profound wisdom of these pages to be invaluable,
are the rising statesmen and senators of the day, who are either being
trained in our Public Schools, at the Universities, or about to enter
upon the difficult but inspiring arena of the House of Commons. In
reference to this sphere of legislative action, with all reverence to
its claims and character, let it be said,--material ends (a boundless
passion for physical good, whether indulged in by a nation, or professed
by an individual, is rebuked with solemn wisdom in the following passage
from Aristotle:--"The external advantages of power and fortune are
acquired and maintained by virtue, but virtue is not acquired and
maintained by them; and whether we consider the virtuous energies
themselves, or the fruits which they unceasingly produce, THE SOVEREIGN
UNADORNED BY VIRTUE. External prosperity is, indeed, instrumental in
producing happiness, and, therefore, like every other instrument, must
have its assigned limits, beyond which it is inconvenient or hurtful.
But to mental excellence no limit can be assigned; the further it
extends the more USEFUL it becomes, if the epithet of 'USEFUL' need ever
be added to that of HONOURABLE. Besides this, the relative importance of
qualities is best estimated by that of their respective subjects. But
the mind, both in itself and in reference to man, is far better than the
body, or than property. The excellencies of the mind, therefore, are in
the same proportion to be preferred to the highest perfection of the
body, and the best disposition of external circumstances. The two last
are of a far inferior, and merely subservient nature; since no man of
sense covets or pursues them, but for the sake of the mind, with a view
to promote its genuine improvement and augment its native joys. Let this
great truth then be acknowledged,--A TRUTH EVINCED BY THE DEITY HIMSELF,
ATTRIBUTES OF HIS DIVINE NATURE."--"Politics," lib. iv.), commercial
objects, and secular aggrandizement, are now receiving an idolatrous
homage and passionate regard, which no Christian patriot can contemplate
without anxiety. The ideal, the imaginative, and the religious element,
is almost sneered out of the House of Commons at the existing moment;
and any glowing exhibition of oratory, or splendid manifestation of
intellect, is derided, as being "unpractical" and ill-adapted to the
sobriety of the English Senate! Against this heartless materialism and
unholy mammon-worship, Burke's pages are a magnificent protest; and are
admirably suited to protect the political youth and dawning statesmen of
our country, from the blight and the blast of doctrines which decry
Enthusiasm as folly, and condemn the Beautiful as worthless and untrue.
Ships, colonies, and commerce; exports and imports; taxes and imposts;
charters and civic arrangements,--none but a madman will depreciate what
such themes involve, of duty, energy, and zeal, in political life.
Still, let it be fearlessly maintained, neither wealth, nor commerce, IN
THEMSELVES, can constitute the real greatness of an empire; it is only
because they stand in relation to the higher destinies and holier
responsibilities of an Empire, that a true statesman will regard them as
vitally wound up with the vigour and prosperity of national development.
Such, at least, is the philosophy of Politics, breathed from the undying
pages of Edmund Burke. He who studies this great writer, will, more and
more, sympathise with what Hooker taught, and Bishop Sanderson
inculcates. In one word, he will learn to venerate with increasing

"That peerless growth of patriotic mind,
The great eternal Wonder of mankind!"

Burke traced the ultimate origin of civil government to the Divine Will,
both as declared in Revelation, and imaged forth by the moral
Constitution of man. In this respect, it is well?known how fundamentally
he differs from the theories of Hobbes, Mandeville, Shaftesbury, and
Hutcheson. Not less also, is he opposed to Locke, who tells us,--"The
original compact which begins and ACTUALLY CONSTITUTES ANY POLITICAL
IN THE WORLD." In one word, Locke declares that civil government is not
from God in the way of principle, but from man in the way of fact; and
thus, being a mere contingency, or moral accident in the history of
human development, self?government is the essential prerogative of our
nature. In accordance with this irrational and unscriptural hypothesis,
we find Price and Priestly expanding Locke's views at the period of
Burke; while in the writings of that apostle of political Antinomianism,
Rousseau, and his English counterpart Tom Paine,--the principles of the
ASSUMED "CONTRAT SOCIAL" display their utmost virulence. This is not the
place to discuss the origin of Civil Government; but the classical
reader, who has been taught to revere the political wisdom of those
ancient Teachers, whose insight was almost prophetical in abstract
science, will thank us for an extract from Aristotle's "Politics," which
bears upon this subject. It presents a most striking coincidence of
sentiment between two master?spirits on the philosophy of government;
and will at once remind the reader of Burke's memorable passage,
beginning with, "Society is a partnership," etc. etc. The passage to
which we allude in Aristotle's "Politics," begins thus: "Ote men oun e
polis phusei proteron e ekastos," k.t.l. The whole passage may be thus
freely translated. "A participation in rights and advantages forms the
bond of political society; AN INSTITUTION PRIOR, IN THE INTENTION OF
What members are to the body, that citizens are to a commonwealth. The
hands or foot, when separated from the body, retains its name, but
totally changes its nature, because it is completely divested of its
uses and powers. In the same manner a citizen is a constituent part of a
whole system, which invests him with powers and qualifies him for
functions for which, in his individual capacity, he is totally unfit;
and independently of such system, he might subsist indeed as a lonely
savage, but could never attain that improved and happy state to which
his progressive nature invariably tends. Perfected by the offices and
duties of social life, man is the best; but, rude and undisciplined, he
is the very worst, of animals. For nothing is more detestable than armed
improbity; and man is armed with craft and courage, which, uncontrolled
by justice, he will most wickedly pervert, and become at once the most
impious and fiercest of monsters, the most abominable in gluttony, and
shameless in personality. But justice is the fundamental virtue of
political society, since the order of Society cannot be maintained
without law, and laws are constituted to proclaim what is just." Let us
add to this noble passage, Aristotle remarks in his "Ethics" (lib. x. c.
8), that a higher destination than political virtue is the true end of
man. In this respect, he concurs with Plato; who teaches us in his
"Theaetetus," the main object of human pursuit ought to be "omoiosis to
theo kata to dunaton," etc. etc.; i.e. "A similitude unto God as far as
possible; which similitude consists in an imitation of His justice,
holiness, and wisdom." To conclude: the noblest end of all Policy on
earth, is to educate Human Nature for that august "politeuma" (Phil.
iii. v. 20), that Eternal Commonwealth which awaits perfected Spirits
above, when, through infinite grace, they are finally admitted into a
"CITY which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." (Heb. xi.
10.) (The dim approximations of Platonic philosophy to certain
discoveries in Divine Revelation, have rightly challenged the attention
of theological enquirers. The above quotation from St. Paul suggests a
reference to one of these, which occurs towards the termination of
Plato's ninth book of "The Republic." He is uttering a protest against
our concluding, that because degeneracy appears to be the invariable law
or destiny of all human commonwealths, THEREFORE, no Archetypal Model
exists of any perfect state, or polity: and then, in opposition to this
political scepticism, Plato adds these remarkable words:--"en ourano
isos paradeigma anakeitai to boulomeno oran kai oronti eauton
katoikizein," etc. etc.--"The state we have here established, which
exists only in our reasoning, but it seems to me, HAS NO EXISTENCE ON


The following are the critical sketches of Burke's character, alluded to
in the commencement of this Essay. They are from the pens of his most
distinguished contemporaries, WHO WERE OPPOSED TO HIM in their political
views and public career.


"There can be no hesitation in according to him a station among the most
extraordinary men that ever appeared; and we think there is now but
little diversity of opinion as to the kind of place which it is fit to
assign him. He was a writer of the first class, and excelled in almost
every kind of composition. Possessed of most extensive knowledge, and of
the most various description; acquainted alike with what different
classes of men knew, each in his own province, and with much that hardly
any one ever thought of learning; he could either bring his masses of
information to bear directly upon the subjects to which they severally
belonged,--or he could avail himself of them generally to strengthen his
faculties, and enlarge his views,--or he could turn any of them to
account for the purpose of illustrating his theme, or enriching his
diction. Hence, when he is handling any one matter, we perceive that we
are conversing with a reasoner or a teacher, to whom almost every other
branch of knowledge is familiar: his views range over all the cognate
objects; his reasonings are derived from principles applicable to other
themes, as well as the one in hand; arguments pour in from all sides, as
well as those which start up under our feet,--the natural growth of the
path he is leading us over; while to throw light round our steps, and
either explore its darkest places, or serve for our recreation;
illustrations are fetched from a thousand quarters, and an imagination
marvellously quick to descry unthought of resemblances, points to our
use the stores, which a love yet more marvellously has gathered from all
ages and nations, and arts and tongues. We are, in respect of the
argument, reminded of Bacon's multifarious knowledge, and the exuberance
of his learned fancy; whilst the many?lettered diction recalls to mind
the first of English poets, and his immortal verse, rich with the spoils
of all sciences and all times.


"He produced but one philosophical treatise; but no man lays down
abstract principles more soundly, or better traces their application.
All his works, indeed, even his controversial, are so infused with
general reflection, so variegated with speculative discussion, that they
wear the air of the Lyceum, as well as the Academy."


"I shall take care to put Burke's work on the French Revolution into the
hands of those whose principles are left to my protection. I shall take
care that they have the advantage of doing, in the regular progression
of youthful studies, what I have done even in the short intervals of
laborious life; that they shall transcribe with their own hands from all
the works of this most extraordinary person, and from this last, among
the rest, the soundest truths of religion, the justest principles of
morals, inculcated and rendered delightful by the most sublime
eloquence; the highest reach of philosophy brought down to the level of
common minds by the most captivating taste; the most enlightened
observations on history, and the most copious collection of useful
maxims for the experience of common life."

(From KING, Bishop of Rochester.) "In the mind of Mr. Burke political
principles were not objects of barren speculation. Wisdom in him was
always practical. Whatever his understanding adopted as truth, made its
way to his heart, and sank deep into it; and his ardent and generous
feelings seized with promptitude every occasion of applying it to
mankind. Where shall we find recorded exertions of active benevolence at
once so numerous, so varied, and so important, made by one man? Among
those, the redress of wrongs, and the protection of weakness from the
oppression of power, were most conspicuous.


The assumption of arbitrary power, in whatever shape it appeared,
whether under the veil of legitimacy, or skulking in the disguise of
State necessity, or presenting the shameless front of
usurpation--whether the prescriptive claim of ascendancy, or the career
of official authority, or the newly?acquired dominion of a mob,--was the
pure object of his detestation and hostility; and this is not a fanciful
enumeration of possible cases," etc.



Whatever alterations time and the necessary accommodation of business
may have introduced, this character can never be sustained, unless the
House of Commons shall be made to bear some stamp of the actual
disposition of the people at large. It would (among public misfortunes)
be an evil more natural and tolerable, that the House of Commons should
be infected with every epidemical frenzy of the people, as this would
indicate some consanguinity, some sympathy of nature with their
constituents, than that they should in all cases be wholly untouched by
the opinions and feelings of the people out of doors. By this want of
sympathy they would cease to be a house of commons. For it is not the
derivation of the power of that house from the people, which makes it in
a distinct sense their representative. The king is the representative of
the people; so are the lords, so are the judges. They all are trustees
for the people, as well as the commons; because no power is given for
the sole sake of the holder; and although government certainly is an
institution of Divine authority, yet its forms, and the persons who
administer it, all originate from the people.

A popular origin cannot therefore be the characteristical distinction of
a popular representative. This belongs equally to all parts of
government, and in all forms. The virtue, spirit, and essence of a house
of commons consists in its being the express image of the feelings of
the nation. It was not instituted to be a control UPON the people, as of
late it has been taught, by a doctrine of the most pernicious tendency.
It was designed as a control FOR the people. Other institutions have
been formed for the purpose of checking popular excesses; and they are,
I apprehend, fully adequate to their object. If not, they ought to be
made so. The House of Commons, as it was never intended for the support
of peace and subordination, is miserably appointed for that service;
having no stronger weapon than its mace, and no better officer than its
serjeant-at-arms, which it can command of its own proper authority. A
vigilant and jealous eye over executory and judicial magistracy; an
anxious care of public money; an openness, approaching towards facility,
to public complaint; these seem to be the true characteristics of a
house of commons. But an addressing house of commons, and a petitioning
nation; a house of commons full of confidence, when the nation is
plunged in despair; in the utmost harmony with ministers, whom the
people regard with the utmost abhorrence; who vote thanks, when the
public opinion calls upon them for impeachments; who are eager to grant,
when the general voice demands account; who, in all disputes between the
people and administration, presume against the people; who punish their
disorders, but refuse even to inquire into the provocations to them;
this is an unnatural, a monstrous state of things in this constitution.
Such an assembly may be a great, wise, awful senate; but it is not, to
any popular purpose, a house of commons. This change from an immediate
state of procuration and delegation to a course of acting as from
original power, is the way in which all the popular magistracies in the
world have been perverted from their purposes. It is indeed their
greatest and sometimes their incurable corruption. For there is a
material distinction between that corruption by which particular points
are carried against reason (this is a thing which cannot be prevented by
human wisdom, and is of less consequence), and the corruption of the
principle itself. For then the evil is not accidental, but settled. The
distemper becomes the natural habit.


You are but just entering into the world; I am going out of it. I have
played long enough to be heartily tired of the drama. Whether I have
acted my part in it well or ill, posterity will judge with more candour
than I, or than the present age, with our present passions, can possibly
pretend to. For my part, I quit it without a sigh, and submit to the
sovereign order without murmuring. The nearer we approach to the goal of
life, the better we begin to understand the true value of our existence,
and the real weight of our opinions. We set out much in love with both:
but we leave much behind us as we advance. We first throw away the tales
along with the rattles of our nurses; those of the priest keep their
hold a little longer; those of our governors the longest of all. But the
passions which prop these opinions are withdrawn one after another; and
the cool light of reason, at the setting of our life, shows us what a
false splendour played upon these objects during our more sanguine


If any inquiry thus carefully conducted should fail at last of
discovering the truth, it may answer an end perhaps as useful, in
discovering to us the weakness of our own understanding. If it does not
make us knowing, it may make us modest. If it does not preserve us from
error, it may at least from the spirit of error; and may make us
cautious of pronouncing with positiveness or with haste, when so much
labour may end in so much uncertainty.


When Newton first discovered the property of attraction, and settled its
laws, he found it served very well to explain several of the most
remarkable phenomena in nature; but yet with reference to the general
system of things, he could consider attraction but as an effect, whose
cause at that time he did not attempt to trace. But when he afterwards
began to account for it by a subtle elastic aether, this great man (if
in so great a man it be not impious to discover anything like a blemish)
seemed to have quitted his usual cautious manner of philosophising:
since, perhaps, allowing all that has been advanced on this subject to
be sufficiently proved, I think it leaves us with as many difficulties
as it found us. That great chain of causes, which linking one to another
even to the throne of God himself, can never be unravelled by any
industry of ours. When we go but one step beyond the immediate sensible
qualities of things, we go out of our depth. All we do after is but a
faint struggle, that shows we are in an element which does not belong to


It is, I own, not uncommon to be wrong in theory, and right in practice;
and we are happy that it is so. Men often act right from their feelings,
who afterwards reason but ill on them from principle: but as it is
impossible to avoid an attempt at such reasoning, and equally impossible
to prevent its having some influence on our practice, surely it is worth
taking some pains to have it just, and founded on the basis of sure


We must not attempt to fly, when we can scarcely pretend to creep. In
considering any complex matter, we ought to examine every distinct
ingredient in the composition, one by one; and reduce everything to the
utmost simplicity; since the condition of our nature binds us to a
strict law and vary narrow limits. We ought afterwards to re-examine the
principles by the effect of the composition, as well as the composition
by that of the principles. We ought to compare our subject with things
of a similar nature, and even with things of a contrary nature; for
discoveries may be, and often are, made by the contrast, which would
escape us on the single view. The greater number of the comparisons we
make, the more general and the more certain our knowledge is likely to
prove, as built upon a more extensive and perfect induction.


Whilst we consider the Godhead merely as he is an object of the
understanding, which forms a complex idea of power, wisdom, justice,
goodness, all stretched to a degree far exceeding the bounds of our
comprehension, whilst we consider the Divinity in this refined and
abstracted light, the imagination and passions are little or nothing
affected. But because we are bound, by the condition of our nature, to
ascend to these pure and intellectual ideas, through the medium of
sensible images, to judge of these divine qualities by their evident
acts and exertions, it becomes extremely hard to disentangle our idea of
the cause from the effect by which we are led to know it. Thus, when we
contemplate the Deity, his attributes and their operation, coming united
on the mind, form a sort of sensible image, and as such are capable of
affecting the imagination. Now, though in a just idea of the Deity,
perhaps none of his attributes are predominant, yet, to our imagination,
his power is by far the most striking. Some reflection, some comparing,
is necessary to satisfy us of his wisdom, his justice, and his goodness.
To be struck with his power, it is only necessary that we should open
our eyes. But whilst we contemplate so vast an object, under the arm, as
it were of almighty power, and invested upon every side with
omnipresence, we shrink into the minuteness of our own nature, and are,
in a manner, annihilated before him.


True religion has, and must have, a large mixture of salutary fear; and
false religions have generally nothing else but fear to support them.
Before the Christian religion had, as it were, humanized the idea of the
Divinity, and brought it somewhat nearer to us, there was very little
said of the love of God. The followers of Plato have something of it,
and only something; the other writers of pagan antiquity, whether poets
or philosophers, nothing at all. And they who consider with what
infinite attention, by what a disregard of every perishable object,
through what long habits of piety and contemplation it is that any man
is able to attain an entire love and devotion to the Deity, will easily
perceive that it is not the first, the most natural and the most
striking, effect which proceeds from that idea.


Whenever we are formed by nature to any active purpose, the passion
which animates us to it is attended with delight, or a pleasure of some
kind, let the subject?matter be what it will; and as our Creator had
designed that we should be united by the bond of sympathy, he has
strengthened that bond by a proportionable delight; and there most where
our sympathy is most wanted,--in the distresses of others.


Natural objects affect us, by the laws of that connexion which
Providence has established between certain motions and configurations of
bodies, and certain consequent feelings in our mind. Painting affects in
the same manner, but with the superadded pleasure of imitation.
Architecture affects by the laws of nature, and the law of reason; from
which latter result the rules of proportion, which make a work to be
praised or censured, in the whole or in some part, when the end for
which it was designed is or is not properly answered. But as to words;
they seem to me to affect us in a manner very different from that in
which we are affected by natural objects, or by painting or
architecture; yet words have as considerable a share in exciting ideas
of beauty and of the sublime as many of those, and sometimes a much
greater than any of them.


Whenever the wisdom of our Creator intended that we should be affected
with anything, he did not confide the execution of his design to the
languid and precarious operation of our reason; but he endued it with
powers and properties that prevent the understanding, and even the will;
which, seizing upon the senses and imagination, captivate the soul
before the understanding is ready either to join with them, or to oppose
them. It is by a long deduction, and much study, that we discover the
adorable wisdom of God in his works: when we discover it, the effect is
very different, not only in the manner of acquiring it, but in its own
nature, from that which strikes us without any preparation from the
sublime or the beautiful.


Whatever turns the soul inward on itself, tends to concentre its forces,
and to fit it for greater and stronger flights of science. By looking
into physical causes our minds are opened and enlarged; and in this
pursuit, whether we take or whether we lose our game, the chase is
certainly of service.


Poetry, with all its obscurity, has a more general, as well as a more
powerful, dominion over the passions, than the other art. And I think
there are reasons in nature, why the obscure idea, when properly
conveyed, should be more affecting than the clear. It is our ignorance
of things that causes all our admiration, and chiefly excites our
passions. Knowledge and acquaintance make the most striking causes
affect but little. It is thus with the vulgar; and all men are as the
vulgar in what they do not understand. The ideas of eternity and
infinity, are among the most affecting we have: and yet perhaps there is
nothing of which we really understand so little, as of infinity and


The object therefore of this mixed passion, which we call love, is the
BEAUTY of the SEX. Men are carried to the sex in general, as it is the
sex, and by the common law of nature; but they are attached to
particulars by personal BEAUTY. I call beauty a social quality; for
where women and men, and not only they, but when other animals give us a
sense of joy and pleasure in beholding them (and there are many that do
so), they inspire us with sentiments of tenderness and affection towards
their persons; we like to have them near us, and we enter willingly into
a kind of relation with them, unless we should have strong reasons to
the contrary.


Curiosity is the most superficial of all the affections; it changes its
object perpetually, it has an appetite which is very sharp, but very
easily satisfied; and it has always an appearance of giddiness,
restlessness, and anxiety. Curiosity, from its nature, is a very active
principle; it quickly runs over the greatest part of its objects, and
soon exhausts the variety which is commonly to be met with in nature;
the same things make frequent returns, and they return with less and
less of any agreeable effect. In short, the occurrences of life, by the
time we come to know it a little, would be incapable of affecting the
mind with any other sensations than those of loathing and weariness, if
many things were not adapted to affect the mind by means of other powers
besides novelty in them, and of other passions besides curiosity in


The mind of man has naturally a far greater alacrity and satisfaction in
tracing resemblances than in searching for differences: because by
making resemblances we produce NEW IMAGES; we unite, we create, we
enlarge our stock; but in making distinctions we offer no food at all to
the imagination; the task itself is more severe and irksome, and what
pleasure we derive from it is something of a negative and indirect


God has planted in man a sense of ambition, and a satisfaction arising
from the contemplation of his excelling his fellows in something deemed
valuable amongst them. It is this passion that drives men to all the
ways we see in use of signalizing themselves, and that tends to make
whatever excites in a man the idea of this distinction so very pleasant.
It has been so strong as to make very miserable men take comfort, that
they were supreme in misery; and certain it is, that, where we cannot
distinguish ourselves by something excellent, we begin to take a
complacency in some singular infirmities, follies, or defects of one
kind or other. It is on this principle that flattery is so prevalent;
for flattery is no more than what raises in a man's mind an idea of a
preference which he has not.


For sympathy must be considered as a sort of substitution, by which we
are put into the place of another man, and affected in many respects as
he is affected; so that this passion may either partake of the nature of
those which regard self?preservation, and turning upon pain may be a
source of the sublime; or it may turn upon ideas of pleasure; and then
whatever has been said of the social affections, whether they regard
society in general, or only some particular modes of it, may be
applicable here. It is by this principle chiefly that poetry, painting,
and other affecting arts, transfuse their passions from one breast to
another, and are often capable of grafting a delight on wretchedness,
misery, and death itself.


So far, then, as taste belongs to the imagination, its principle is the
same in all men; there is no different in the manner of their being
affected, nor in the causes of the affection; but in the DEGREE there is
a difference, which arises from two causes principally; either from a
greater degree of natural sensibility, or from a closer and longer
attention to the object.


We do not sufficiently distinguish, in our observations upon language,
between a clear expression and a strong expression. These are frequently
confounded with each other, though they are in reality extremely
different. The former regards the understanding; the latter belongs to
the passions. The one describes a thing as it is; the latter describes
it as it is felt. Now, as there is a moving tone of voice, an
impassioned countenance, an agitated gesture, which affect independently
of the things about which they are exerted, so there are words, and
certain dispositions of words, which being peculiarly devoted to
passionate subjects, and always used by those who are under the
influence of any passion, touch and move us more than those which far
more clearly and distinctly express the subject?matter. We yield to
sympathy what we refuse to description. The truth is, all verbal
description, merely as naked description, though never so exact, conveys
so poor and insufficient an idea of the thing described, that it could
scarcely have the smallest effect, if the speaker did not call in to his
aid those modes of speech that mark a strong and lively feeling in
himself. Then, by the contagion of our passions, we catch a fire already
kindled in another, which probably might never have been struck out by
the object described. Words, by strongly conveying the passions, by
those means which we have already mentioned, fully compensate for their
weakness in other respects.


Since the imagination is only the representation of the senses, it can
only be pleased or displeased with the images, from the same principle
on which the sense is pleased or displeased with the realities; and
consequently there must be just as close an agreement in the
imaginations as in the senses of men. A little attention will convince
us that this must of necessity be the case.


If words have all their possible extent of power, three effects arise in
the mind of the hearer. The first is, the SOUND; the second, the
PICTURE, or representation of the thing signified by the sound; the
third is, the AFFECTION of the soul produced by one or by both of the
foregoing. COMPOUNDED ABSTRACT words, of which we have been speaking
(honour, justice, liberty, and the like), produce the first and the last
of these effects, but not the second. SIMPLE ABSTRACTS, are used to
signify some one simple idea without much adverting to others which may
chance to attend it, as blue, green, hot, cold, and the like; these are
capable of effecting all three of the purposes of words; as the
AGGREGATE words, man, castle, horse, etc. are in a yet higher degree.
But I am of opinion, that the most general effect, even of these words,
does not arise from their forming pictures of the several things they
would represent in the imagination; because, on a very diligent
examination of my own mind, and getting others to consider theirs, I do
not find that once in twenty times any such picture is formed, and, when
it is, there is most commonly a particular effort of the imagination for
that purpose. But the aggregate words operate, as I said of the
compound?abstracts, not by presenting any image to the mind, but by
having from use the same effect on being mentioned, that their original
has when it is seen.


I am convinced that the method of teaching which approaches most nearly
to the method of investigation is incomparably the best; since, not
content with serving up a few barren and lifeless truths, it leads to
the stock on which they grew; it tends to set the reader himself in the
track of invention, and to direct him into those paths in which the
author has made his own discoveries, if he should be so happy as to have
made any that are valuable.


Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger,
that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about
terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a
source of the SUBLIME; that is, it is productive of the strongest
emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.


Those despotic governments which are founded on the passions of men, and
principally upon the passion of fear, keep their chief as much as may be
from the public eye. The policy has been the same in many cases of
religion. Almost all the heathen temples were dark. Even in the
barbarous temples of the Americans at this day, they keep their idol in
a dark part of the hut which is consecrated to his worship. For this
purpose too the Druids performed all their ceremonies in the bosom of
the darkest woods, and in the shade of the oldest and most spreading
oaks. No person seems better to have understood the secret of
heightening, or of setting terrible things, if I may use the expression,
in their strongest light, by the force of a judicious obscurity, than


Whatever certainty is to be acquired in morality and the science of
life; just the same degree of certainty have we in what relates to them
in works of imitation. Indeed, it is for the most part in our skill in
manners, and in the observances of time and place, and of decency in
general, which is only to be learned in those schools to which Horace
recommends us, that what is called taste, by way of distinction,
consists; and which is in reality no other than a more refined judgment.
On the whole it appears to me, that what is called taste, in its most
general acceptation, is not a simple idea, but is partly made up of a
perception of the primary pleasures of sense, of the secondary pleasures
of the imagination, and of the conclusions of the reasoning faculty,
concerning the various relations of these, and concerning the human
passions, manners, and actions. All this is requisite to form taste, and
the ground?work of all these is the same in the human mind; for as the
senses are the great originals of all our ideas, and consequently of all
our pleasures, if they are not uncertain and arbitrary, the whole
ground-work of taste is common to all, and therefore there is a
sufficient foundation for a conclusive reasoning on these matters.


Beauty is a thing much too affecting not to depend upon some positive
qualities. And, since it is no creature of our reason, since it strikes
us without any reference to use, and even where no use at all can be
discerned, since the order and method of nature is generally very
different from our measures and proportions, we must conclude that
beauty is, for the greater part, some quality in bodies acting
mechanically upon the human mind by the intervention of the senses.


Choose a day on which to represent the most sublime and affecting
tragedy we have: appoint the most favourite actors; spare no cost upon
the scenes and decorations; unite the greatest efforts of poetry,
painting, and music; and when you have collected your audience, just at
the moment when their minds are erect with expectation, let it be
reported that a state criminal of high rank is on the point of being
executed in the adjoining square; in a moment the emptiness of the
theatre would demonstrate the comparative weakness of the imitative
arts, and proclaim the triumph of the real sympathy. I believe that this
notion of our having a simple pain in the reality, yet a delight in the
representation, arises from hence, that we do not sufficiently
distinguish what we would by no means choose to do, from what we should
be eager enough to see if it was once done. We delight in seeing things,
which so far from doing, our heartiest wishes would be to see redressed.
This noble capital, the pride of England and of Europe, I believe no man
is so strangely wicked as to desire to see destroyed by a conflagration
or an earthquake, though he should be removed himself to the greatest
distance from the danger. But suppose such a fatal accident to have
happened, what numbers from all parts would crowd to behold the ruins,
and amongst them many who would have been content never to have seen
London in its glory!


A rectitude of judgment in the arts, which may be called a good taste,
does in a great measure depend upon sensibility; because, if the mind
has no bent to the pleasures of the imagination, it will never apply
itself sufficiently to works of that species to acquire a competent
knowledge in them. But, though a degree of sensibility is requisite to
form a good judgment, yet a good judgment does not necessarily arise
from a quick sensibility of pleasure.


This arises chiefly from these three causes. First. That we take an
extraordinary part in the passions of others, and that we are easily
affected and brought into sympathy by any tokens which are shown of
them; and there are no tokens which can express all the circumstances of
most passions so fully as words; so that if a person speaks upon any
subject, he can not only convey the subject to you, but likewise the
manner in which he is himself affected by it. Certain it is, that the
influence of most things on our passions is not so much from the things
themselves, as from our opinions concerning them; and these again depend
very much on the opinions of other men, conveyable for the most part by
words only. Secondly. There are many things of a very affecting nature,
which can seldom occur in the reality, but the words that represent them
often do; and thus they have an opportunity of making a deep impression
and taking root in the mind, whilst the idea of the reality was
transient; and to some perhaps never really occurred in any shape, to
whom it is notwithstanding very affecting, as war, death, famine, etc.
Besides, many ideas have never been at all presented to the senses of
any men but by words, as God, angels, devils, heaven, and hell, all of
which have, however, a great influence over the passions. Thirdly. By
words we have it in our power to make such COMBINATIONS as we cannot
possibly do otherwise. By this power of combining, we are able, by the
addition of well?chosen circumstances, to give a new life and force to
the simple object. In painting we may represent any fine figure we
please; but we never can give it those enlivening touches which it may
receive from words. To represent an angel in a picture, you can only
draw a beautiful young man winged: but what painting can furnish out
anything so grand as the addition of one word, "the angel of the LORD?"


I then thought, and am still of the same opinion, that error, and not
truth of any kind, is dangerous; that ill conclusions can only flow from
false propositions; and that, to know whether any proposition be true or
false, it is a preposterous method to examine it by its apparent


For as sympathy makes us take a concern in whatever men feel, so this
affection prompts us to copy whatever they do; and consequently we have
a pleasure in imitating, and in whatever belongs to imitation merely as
it is such, without any intervention of the reasoning faculty, but
solely from our natural constitution, which Providence has framed in
such a manner as to find either pleasure or delight, according to the
nature of the object, in whatever regards the purposes of our being. It
is by imitation far more than by precept, that we learn everything; and
what we learn thus, we acquire not only more effectually, but more
pleasantly. This forms our manners, our opinions, our lives. It is one
of the strongest links of society; it is a species of mutual compliance,
which all men yield to each other, without constraint to themselves, and
which is extremely flattering to all.


It is probable that the standard both of reason and taste is the same in
all human creatures. For if there were not some principles of judgment
as well as of sentiment common to all mankind, no hold could possibly be
taken either on their reason or their passions, sufficient to maintain
the ordinary correspondence of life.


A theory founded on experiment, and not assumed, is always good for so
much as it explains. Our inability to push it indefinitely is no
argument at all against it. This inability may be owing to our ignorance
of some necessary MEDIUMS; to a want of proper application; to many
other causes besides a defect in the principles we employ.


In the mean time, that power, which all these changes aimed at securing,
remains still as tottering and as uncertain as ever. They are delivered
up into the hands of those who feel neither respect for their persons,
nor gratitude for their favours; who are put about them in appearance to
serve, in reality to govern them; and, when the signal is given, to
abandon and destroy them, in order to set up some new dupe of ambition,
who in his turn is to be abandoned and destroyed. Thus, living in a
state of continual uneasiness and ferment, softened only by the
miserable consolation of giving now and then preferments to those for
whom they have no value; they are unhappy in their situation, yet find
it impossible to resign. Until, at length, soured in temper, and
disappointed by the very attainment of their ends, in some angry, in
some haughty, or some negligent moment, they incur the displeasure of
those upon whom they have rendered their very being dependent. Then
perierunt tempora longi servitii; they are cast off with scorn; they are
turned out, emptied of all natural character, of all intrinsic worth, of
all essential dignity, and deprived of every consolation of friendship.
Having rendered all retreat to old principles ridiculous, and to old
regards impracticable, not being able to counterfeit pleasure, or to
discharge discontent, nothing being sincere or right, or balanced in
their minds, it is more than a chance, that, in the delirium of the last
stage of their distempered power, they make an insane political
testament, by which they throw all their remaining weight and
consequence into the scale of their declared enemies, and the avowed
authors of their destruction.


If these evil dispositions should spread much farther they must end in
our destruction; for nothing can save a people destitute of public and
private faith. However, the author, for the present state of things, has
extended the charge by much too widely; as men are but too apt to take
the measure of all mankind from their own particular acquaintance.
Barren as this age may be in the growth of honour and virtue, the
country does not want, at this moment, as strong, and those not a few,
examples as were ever known, of an unshaken adherence to principle, and
attachment to connexion, against every allurement of interest. Those
examples are not furnished by the great alone; nor by those, whose
activity in public affairs may render it suspected that they make such a
character one of the rounds in their ladder of ambition; but by men more
quiet, and more in the shade, on whom an unmixed sense of honour alone
could operate.


No system of that kind can be formed, which will not leave room fully
sufficient for healing coalitions: but no coalition which, under the
specious name of independency, carries in its bosom the unreconciled
principles of the original discord of parties, ever was, or will be, an
healing coalition. Nor will the mind of our sovereign ever know repose,
his kingdom settlement, or his business order, in efficiency or grace
with his people, until things are established upon the basis of some set
of men, who are trusted by the public, and who can trust one another.


Men of sense, when new projects come before them, always think a
discourse proving the mere right or mere power of acting in the manner
proposed, to be no more than a very unpleasant way of mispending time.
They must see the object to be of proper magnitude to engage them; they
must see the means of compassing it to be next to certain: the mischiefs
not to counterbalance the profit; they will examine how a proposed
imposition or regulation agrees with the opinion of those who are likely
to be affected by it; they will not despise the consideration even of
their habitudes and prejudices. They wish to know how it accords or
disagrees with the true spirit of prior establishments, whether of
government or of finance; because they well know, that in the
complicated economy of great kingdoms, and immense revenues, which in a
length of time, and by a variety of accidents, have coalesced into a
sort of body, an attempt towards a compulsory equality in all
circumstances, and an exact practical definition of the supreme rights
in every case, is the most dangerous and chimerical of all enterprises.
The old building stands well enough, though part Gothic, part Grecian,
and part Chinese, until an attempt is made to square it into uniformity.
Then it may come down upon our heads altogether, in much uniformity of
ruin; and great will be the fall thereof.


Enough of this visionary union; in which much extravagance appears
without any fancy, and the judgment is shocked without anything to
refresh the imagination. It looks as if the author had dropped down from
the moon, without any knowledge of the general nature of this globe, of
the general nature of its inhabitants, without the least acquaintance
with the affairs of this country.


Party divisions, whether on the whole operating for good or evil, are
things inseparable from free government. This is a truth which, I
believe, admits little dispute, having been established by the uniform
experience of all ages. The part a good citizen ought to take in these
divisions has been a matter of much deeper controversy. But God forbid
that any controversy relating to our essential morals should admit of no
decision. It appears to me, that this question, like most of the others
which regard our duties in life, is to be determined by our station in
it. Private men may be wholly neutral, and entirely innocent; but they
who are legally invested with public trust, or stand on the high ground
of rank and dignity, which is trust implied, can hardly in any case
remain indifferent, without the certainty of sinking into
insignificance; and thereby in effect deserting that post in which, with
the fullest authority, and for the wisest purposes, the laws and
institutions of their country have fixed them. However, if it be the
office of those who are thus circumstanced, to take a decided part, it
is no less their duty that it should be a sober one.


It ought to be circumscribed by the same laws of decorum, and balanced
by the same temper, which bound and regulate all the virtues. In a word,
we ought to act in party with all the moderation which does not
absolutely enervate that vigour, and quench that fervency of spirit,
without which the best wishes for the public good must evaporate in
empty speculation.


Our circumstances are indeed critical; but then they are the critical
circumstances of a strong and mighty nation. If corruption and meanness
are greatly spread, they are not spread universally. Many public men are
hitherto examples of public spirit and integrity. Whole parties, as far
as large bodies can be uniform, have preserved character. However they
may be deceived in some particulars, I know of no set of men amongst us
which does not contain persons on whom the nation, in a difficult
exigence, may well value itself. Private life, which is the nursery of
the commonwealth, is yet in general pure, and on the whole disposed to
virtue; and the people at large want neither generosity nor spirit. No
small part of that very luxury, which is so much the subject of the
author's declamation, but which, in most parts of life, by being well
balanced and diffused, is only decency and convenience, has perhaps as
many or more good than evil consequences attending it. It certainly
excites industry, nourishes emulation, and inspires some sense of
personal value into all ranks of people. What we want is to establish
more fully an opinion of uniformity, and consistency of character, in
the leading men of the state; such as will restore some confidence to
profession and appearance, such as will fix subordination upon esteem.
Without this all schemes are begun at the wrong end.


People not very well grounded in the principles of public morality find
a set of maxims in office ready made for them, which they assume as
naturally and inevitably, as any of the insignia or instruments of the
situation. A certain tone of the solid and practical is immediately
acquired. Every former profession of public spirit is to be considered
as a debauch of youth, or, at best, as a visionary scheme of
unattainable perfection. The very idea of consistency is exploded. The
convenience of the business of the day is to furnish the principle for
doing it. Then the whole ministerial cant is quickly got by heart. The
prevalence of faction is to be lamented. All opposition is to be
regarded as the effect of envy and disappointed ambition. All
administrations are declared to be alike. The same necessity justifies
all their measures. It is no longer a matter of discussion, who or what
administration is; but that administration is to be supported, is a
general maxim. Flattering themselves that their power is become
necessary to the support of all order and government, everything which
tends to the support of that power is sanctified, and becomes a part of
the public interest.


I believe the instances are exceedingly rare of men immediately passing
over a clear, marked line of virtue into declared vice and corruption.
There are a sort of middle tints and shades between the two extremes;
there is something uncertain on the confines of the two empires which
they first pass through, and which renders the change easy and
imperceptible. There are even a sort of splendid impositions so well
contrived, that, at the very time the path of rectitude is quitted for
ever, men seem to be advancing into some higher and nobler road of
public conduct. Not that such impositions are strong enough in
themselves; but a powerful interest, often concealed from those whom it
affects, works at the bottom, and secures the operation. Men are thus
debauched away from those legitimate connexions, which they had formed
on a judgment, early perhaps but sufficiently mature, and wholly


It is the nature of despotism to abhor power held by any means but its
own momentary pleasure; and to annihilate all intermediate situations
between boundless strength on its own part, and total debility on the
part of the people.


Nothing can render this a point of indifference to the nation, but what
must either render us totally desperate, or sooth us into the security
of idiots. We must soften into a credulity below the milkiness of
infancy, to think all men virtuous. We must be tainted with a malignity
truly diabolical, to believe all the world to be equally wicked and
corrupt. Men are in public as in private, some good, some evil. The
elevation of the one, and the depression of the other, are the first
objects of all true policy. But that form of government, which, neither
in its direct institutions, nor in their immediate tendency, has
contrived to throw its affairs into the most trustworthy hands, but has
left its whole executory system to be disposed of agreeably to the
uncontrolled pleasures of any one man, however excellent or virtuous, is
a plan of polity defective not only in that member, but consequentially
erroneous in every part of it.


To complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present possessors
of power, to lament the past, to conceive extravagant hopes of the
future, are the common dispositions of the greatest part of mankind;
indeed, the necessary effects of the ignorance and levity of the vulgar.
Such complaints and humours have existed in all times; yet as all times
have NOT been alike, true political sagacity manifests itself in
distinguishing that complaint which only characterises the general
infirmity of human nature, from those which are symptoms of the
particular distemperature of our own air and season.


I am not one of those who think that the people are never in the wrong.
They have been so, frequently and outrageously, both in other countries
and in this. But I do say, that in all disputes between them and their
rulers, the presumption is at least upon a par in favour of the people.
Experience may perhaps justify me in going farther. When popular
discontents have been very prevalent, it may well be affirmed and
supported, that there has been generally something found amiss in the
constitution, or in the conduct of government. The people have no
interest in disorder. When they do wrong, it is their error, and not
their crime.


It is this unnatural infusion of a government which in a great part of
its constitution is popular, that has raised the present ferment in the
nation. The people, without entering deeply into its principles, could
plainly perceive its effects, in much violence, in a great spirit of
innovation, and a general disorder in all the functions of government. I
keep my eye solely on this system; if I speak of those measures which
have arisen from it, it will be so far only as they illustrate the
general scheme. This is the fountain of all those bitter waters, of
which, through an hundred different conduits, we have drunk until we are
ready to burst. The discretionary power of the Crown in the formation of
ministry, abused by bad or weak men, has given rise to a system which,
without directly violating the letter of any law, operates against the
spirit of the whole constitution.

A plan of favouritism for our executory government is essentially at
variance with the plan of our legislature. One great end undoubtedly of
a mixed government like ours, composed of monarchy, and of controls, on
the part of the higher people and the lower, is that the prince shall
not be able to violate the laws. This is useful indeed and fundamental.
But this, even at first view, in no more than a negative advantage; an
armour merely defensive. It is therefore next in order, and equal in


In arbitrary governments, the constitution of the ministry follows the
constitution of the legislature. Both the law and the magistrate are the
creatures of will. It must be so. Nothing, indeed, will appear more
certain, on any tolerable consideration of this matter, than that EVERY
LEGISLATURE. If it should be otherwise, things must fall into a hideous
disorder. The people of a free commonwealth, who have taken such care
that their laws should be the result of general consent, cannot be so
senseless as to suffer their executory system to be composed of persons
on whom they have no dependence, and whom no proofs of the public love
and confidence have recommended to those powers, upon the use of which
the very being of the state depends.


The power of the Crown, almost dead and rotten as Prerogative, has grown
up anew, with much more strength, and far less odium, under the name of
Influence. An influence, which operated without noise and without
violence; an influence which converted the very antagonist into the
instrument of power; which contained in itself a perpetual principle of
growth and renovation; and which the distresses and the prosperity of
the country equally tend to augment, was an admirable substitute for a
prerogative, that, being only the offspring of antiquated prejudices,
had moulded into its original stamina irresistible principles of decay
and dissolution. The ignorance of the people is a bottom but for a
temporary system; the interest of active men in the state is a
foundation perpetual and infallible.


Government is deeply interested in everything which, even through the
medium of some temporary uneasiness, may tend finally to compose the
minds of the subjects, and to conciliate their affections. I have
nothing to do here with the abstract value of the voice of the people.
But as long as reputation, the most precious possession of every
individual, and as long as opinion, the great support of the state,
depend entirely upon that voice, it can never be considered as a thing
of little consequence either to individuals or to governments. Nations
are not primarily ruled by laws; less by violence. Whatever original
energy may be supposed either in force or regulation, the operation of
both is, in truth, merely instrumental. Nations are governed by the same
methods, and on the same principles, by which an individual without
authority is often able to govern those who are his equals or his
superiors--by a knowledge of their temper, and by a judicious management
of it; I mean, when public affairs are steadily and quietly conducted;
and when government is nothing but a continued scuffle between the
magistrate and the multitude; in which sometimes the one and sometimes
the other is uppermost; in which they alternately yield and prevail, in
a series of contemptible victories, and scandalous submissions. The
temper of the people amongst whom he presides ought therefore to be the
first study of a statesman. And the knowledge of this temper it is by no
means impossible for him to attain, if he has not an interest in being
ignorant of what it is his duty to learn.


It is a fallacy in constant use with those who would level all things,
and confound right with wrong, to insist upon the inconveniences which
are attached to every choice, without taking into consideration the
different weight and consequence of those inconveniences. The question
is not concerning ABSOLUTE discontent or PERFECT satisfaction in
government; neither of which can be pure and unmixed at any time, or
upon any system. The controversy is about that degree of good humour in
the people, which may possibly be attained, and ought certainly to be
looked for. While some politicians may be waiting to know whether the
sense of every individual be against them, accurately distinguishing the
vulgar from the better sort, drawing lines between the enterprises of a
faction and the efforts of a people, they may chance to see the
government, which they are so nicely weighing, and dividing, and
distinguishing, tumble to the ground in the midst of their wise
deliberation. Prudent men, when so great an object as the security of
government, or even its peace, is at stake, will not run the risk of a
decision which may be fatal to it. They who can read the political sky
will see a hurricane in a cloud no bigger than a hand at the very edge
of the horizon, and will run into the first harbour. No lines can be
laid down for civil or political wisdom. They are a matter incapable of
exact definition. But, though no man can draw a stroke between the
confines of day and night, yet light and darkness are, upon the whole,
tolerably distinguishable. Nor will it be impossible for a prince to
find out such a mode of government, and such persons to administer it,
as will give a great degree of content to his people; without any
curious and anxious research for that abstract, universal, perfect
harmony, which, while he is seeking, he abandons those means of ordinary
tranquillity which are in his power without any research at all.


Before men are put forward into the great trusts of the state, they
ought, by their conduct, to have obtained such a degree of estimation in
their country, as may be some sort of pledge and security to the public,
that they will not abuse those trusts. It is no mean security for a
proper use of power, that a man has shown by the general tenor of his
actions, that the affection, the good opinion, the confidence of his
fellow citizens, have been among the principal objects of his life; and
that he has owed none of the degradations of his power or fortune to a
settled contempt, or occasional forfeiture of their esteem.

That man who before he comes into power has no friends, or who coming
into power is obliged to desert his friends, or who losing it has no
friends to sympathise with him; he who has no sway among any part of the
landed or commercial interest, but whose whole importance has begun with
his office, and is sure to end with it; is a person who ought never to
be suffered by a controlling parliament to continue in any of those
situations which confer the lead and direction of all our public
affairs; because such a man HAS NO CONNECTION WITH THE INTEREST OF THE
PEOPLE. Those knots or cabals of men who have got together avowedly
without any public principle, in order to sell their conjunct iniquity
at the higher rate, and are therefore universally odious, ought never to
be suffered to domineer in the state; because they have NO CONNECTION


Every good political institution must have a preventive operation as
well as a remedial. It ought to have a natural tendency to exclude bad
men from government, and not to trust for the safety of the state to
subsequent punishment alone: punishment, which has ever been tardy and
uncertain, and which, when power is suffered in bad hands, may chance to
fall rather on the injured than the criminal.


They may be assured, that however they amuse themselves with a variety
of projects for substituting something else in the place of that great
and only foundation of government, the confidence of the people, every
attempt will but make their condition worse. When men imagine that their
food is only a cover for poison, and when they neither love nor trust
the hand that serves it, it is not the name of the roast beef of Old
England, that will persuade them to sit down to the table that is spread
for them. When the people conceive that laws, and tribunals, and even
popular assemblies, are perverted from the ends of their institution,
they find in those names of degenerated establishments only new motives
to discontent. Those bodies which, when full of life and beauty, lay in
their arms, and were their joy and comfort, when dead and putrid, become
but the more loathsome from remembrance of former endearments. A sullen
gloom and furious disorder prevail by fits: the nation loses its relish
for peace and prosperity; as it did in that season of fulness which
opened our troubles in the time of Charles the First. A species of men
to whom a state of order would become a sentence of obscurity, are
nourished into a dangerous magnitude by the heat of intestine
disturbances; and it is no wonder that, by a sort of sinister piety,
they cherish, in their turn, the disorders which are the parents of all
their consequence.


It is an advantage to all narrow wisdom and narrow morals, that their
maxims have a plausible air; and, on a cursory view, appear equal to
first principles. They are light and portable. They are as current as
copper coin; and about as valuable. They serve equally the first
capacities and the lowest; and they are, at least, as useful to the
worst men as to the best. Of this stamp is the cant of NOT MEN, BUT
MEASURES; a sort of charm by which many people get loose from every
honourable engagement. When I see a man acting this desultory and
disconnected part, with as much detriment to his own fortune as
prejudice to the cause of any party, I am not persuaded that he is
right; but I am ready to believe he is in earnest. I respect virtue in
all its situations; even when it is found in the unsuitable company of
weakness. I lament to see qualities rare and valuable, squandered away
without any public utility. But when a gentleman with great visible
emoluments abandons the party in which he has long acted, and tells you,
it is because he proceeds upon his own judgment; that he acts on the
merits of the several measures as they arise; and that he is obliged to
follow his own conscience, and not that of others; he gives reasons
which it is impossible to controvert, and discovers a character which it
is impossible to mistake. What shall we think of him who never differed
from a certain set of men until the moment they lost their power, and
who never agreed with them in a single instance afterwards? Would not
such a coincidence of interest and opinion be rather fortunate? Would it
not be an extraordinary cast upon the dice, that a man's connexions
should degenerate into faction, precisely at the critical moment when
they lose their power, or he accepts a place? When people desert their
connexions, the desertion is a manifest FACT, upon which a direct simple
issue lies, triable by plain men. Whether a MEASURE of government be
right or wrong, IS NO MATTER OF FACT, but a mere affair of opinion, on
which men may, as they do, dispute and wrangle without end. But whether
the individual THINKS the measure right or wrong, is a point at still a
greater distance from the reach of all human decision. It is therefore
very convenient to politicians, not to put the judgment of their conduct
on overt acts, cognizable in any ordinary court, but upon such matter as
can be triable only in that secret tribunal, where they are sure of
being heard with favour, or where at worst the sentence will be only
private whipping.


Another scene was opened, and other actors appeared on the stage. The
State, in the condition I have described it, was delivered into the
hands of Lord Chatham--a great and celebrated name; a name that keeps
the name of this country respectable in every other on the globe. It may
be truly called--

Clarum et venerabile nomen
Gentibus, et multum nostrae quod proderat urbi.

Sir, the venerable age of this great man, his merited rank, his superior
eloquence, his splendid qualities, his eminent services, the vast space
he fills in the eye of mankind; and, more than all the rest, his fall
from power, which, like death, canonizes and sanctifies a great
character, will not suffer me to censure any part of his conduct. I am
afraid to flatter him; I am sure I am not disposed to blame him. Let
those, who have betrayed him by their adulation, insult him with their
malevolence. But what I do not presume to censure, I may have leave to
lament. For a wise man, he seemed to me at that time to be governed too
much by general maxims. I speak with the freedom of history, and I hope
without offence. One or two of these maxims, flowing from an opinion not
the most indulgent to our unhappy species, and surely a little too
general, led him into measures that were greatly mischievous to himself;
and for that reason, among others, perhaps fatal to his country;
measures, the effects of which, I am afraid, are for ever incurable. He
made an administration, so checkered and speckled; he put together a
piece of joinery, so crossly indented and whimsically dove-tailed; a
cabinet so variously inlaid; such a piece of diversified mosaic; such a
tesselated pavement without cement; here a bit of black stone, and there
a bit of white; patriots and courtiers, king's friends and republicans;
Whigs and Tories; treacherous friends and open enemies; that it was
indeed a very curious show; but utterly unsafe to touch, and unsure to
stand on. The colleagues whom he had assorted at the same boards, stared
at each other, and were obliged to ask, "Sir, your name?--Sir, you have
the advantage of me--Mr. Such-a-one--I beg a thousand pardons--" I
venture to say, it did so happen, that persons had a single office
divided between them, who had never spoken to each other in their lives,
until they found themselves, they knew not how, pigging together, heads
and points, in the same truckle-bed.

Sir, in consequence of this arrangement, having put so much the larger
part of his enemies and opposers into power, the confusion was such,
that his own principles could not possibly have any effect or influence
in the conduct of affairs. If ever he fell into a fit of the gout, or if
any other cause withdrew him from public cares, principles directly the
contrary were sure to predominate. When he had executed his plan, he had
not an inch of ground to stand upon. When he had accomplished his scheme
of administration, he was no longer a minister. When his face was hid
but for a moment, his whole system was on a wide sea, without chart or
compass. The gentlemen, his particular friends, who, with the names of
various departments of ministry, were admitted to seem as if they acted
a part under him, with a modesty that becomes all men, and with a
confidence in him, which was justified even in its extravagance by his
superior abilities, had never, in any instance, presumed upon any
opinion of their own. Deprived of his guiding influence, they were
whirled about, the sport of every gust, and easily driven into any port;
and as those who joined with them in manning the vessel were the most
directly opposite to his opinions, measures, and character, and far the
most artful and most powerful of the set, they easily prevailed, so as
to seize upon the vacant, unoccupied, and derelict minds of his friends;
and instantly they turned the vessel wholly out of the course of his
policy. As if it were to insult as well as to betray him, even long
before the close of the first session of his administration, when
everything was publicly transacted, and with great parade, in his name,
they made an act, declaring it highly just and expedient to raise a
revenue in America. For even then, Sir, even before this splendid orb
was entirely set, and while the western horizon was in a blaze with his
descending glory, on the opposite quarter of the heavens arose another
luminary, and, for his hour, became lord of the ascendant.


Mr. Grenville was a first-rate figure in this country. With a masculine
understanding, and a stout and resolute heart, he had an application
undissipated and unwearied. He took public business not as a duty which
he was to fulfil, but as a pleasure he was to enjoy; and he seemed to
have no delight out of this house, except in such things as some way
related to the business that was to be done within it. If he was
ambitious, I will say this for him, his ambition was of a noble and
generous strain. It was to raise himself, not by the low, pimping
politics of a court, but to win his way to power, through the laborious
gradations of public service; and to secure himself a well-earned rank
in Parliament, by a thorough knowledge of its constitution, and a
perfect practice in all its business.

Sir, if such a man fell into errors, it must be from defects not
intrinsical; they must be rather sought in the particular habits of his
life; which though they do not alter the ground-work of character, yet
tinge it with their own hue. He was bred in a profession. He was bred to
the law, which is, in my opinion, one of the first and noblest of human
sciences; a science which does more to quicken and invigorate the
understanding, than all the other kinds of learning put together; but it
is not apt, except in persons very happily born, to open and to
liberalize the mind exactly in the same proportion. Passing from that
study he did not go very largely into the world; but plunged into
business; I mean into the business of office; and the limited and fixed
methods and forms established there. Much knowledge is to be had
undoubtedly in that line; and there is no knowledge which is not
valuable. But it may be truly said, that men too much conversant in
office are rarely minds of remarkable enlargement. Their habits of
office are apt to give them a turn to think the substance of business
not to be much more important than the forms in which it is conducted.
These forms are adapted to ordinary occasions; and therefore persons who
are nurtured in office do admirably well as long as things go on in
their common order; but when the high roads are broken up, and the
waters out, when a new and troubled scene is opened, and the file
affords no precedent, then it is that a greater knowledge of mankind,
and a far more extensive comprehension of things, is requisite, than
ever office gave, or than office can ever give.


This light too is passed and set for ever. You understand, to be sure,
that I speak of Charles Townshend, officially the reproducer of this
fatal scheme; whom I cannot even now remember without some degree of
sensibility. In truth, Sir, he was the delight and ornament of this
house, and the charm of every private society which he honoured with his
presence. Perhaps there never arose in this country, nor in any country,
a man of a more pointed and finished wit; and (where his passions were
not concerned) of a more refined, exquisite, and penetrating judgment.
If he had not so great a stock, as some have had who flourished
formerly, of knowledge long treasured up, he knew better by far, than
any man I ever was acquainted with, how to bring together within a short
time, all that was necessary to establish, to illustrate, and to
decorate that side of the question he supported. He stated his matter
skilfully and powerfully. He particularly excelled in a most luminous
explanation and display of his subject. His style of argument was
neither trite and vulgar, nor subtle and abstruse. He hit the house just
between wind and water. And not being troubled with too anxious a zeal
for any matter in question, he was never more tedious, or more earnest,
than the pre-conceived opinions and present temper of his hearers
required; to whom he was always in perfect unison. He conformed exactly
to the temper of the house; and he seemed to guide, because he was
always sure to follow it.


Party is a body of men united, for promoting by their joint endeavours
the national interest, upon some particular principle in which they are
all agreed. For my part, I find it impossible to conceive that any one
believes in his own politics, or thinks them to be of any weight, who
refuses to adopt the means of having them reduced into practice. It is
the business of the speculative philosopher to mark the proper ends of
government. It is the business of the politician, who is the philosopher
in action, to find out proper means towards those ends, and to employ
them with effect. Therefore every honourable connection will avow it is
their first purpose to pursue every just method to put the men who hold
their opinions into such a condition as may enable them to carry their
common plans into execution, with all the power and authority of the
state. As this power is attached to certain situations, it is their duty
to contend for these situations. Without a proscription of others, they
are bound to give to their own party the preference in all things; and
by no means, for private considerations, to accept any offers of power
in which the whole body is not included; nor to suffer themselves to be
led, or to be controlled, or to be overbalanced, in office or in
council, by those who contradict the very fundamental principles on
which their party is formed, and even those upon which every fair
connection must stand. Such a generous contention for power, on such
manly and honourable maxims, will easily be distinguished from the mean
and interested struggle for place and emolument. The very style of such
persons will serve to discriminate them from those numberless imposters
who have deluded the ignorant with professions incompatible with human
practice, and have afterwards incensed them by practices below the level
of vulgar rectitude.


Every profession, not excepting the glorious one of a soldier, or the
sacred one of a priest, is liable to its own particular vices, which,
however, form no argument against those ways of life; nor are the vices
themselves inevitable to every individual in those professions. Of such
a nature are connections in politics; essentially necessary for the full
performance of our public duty, accidentally liable to degenerate into
faction. Commonwealths are made of families, free commonwealths of
parties also; and we may as well affirm, that our natural regards and
ties of blood tend inevitably to make men bad citizens, as that the
bonds of our party weaken those by which we are held to our country.

Some legislators went so far as to make neutrality in party a crime
against the state. I do not know whether this might not have been rather
to overstrain the principle. Certain it is, the best patriots in the
greatest commonwealths have always commended and promoted such
connections. Idem sentire de republica, was with them a principal ground
of friendship and attachment; nor do I know any other capable of forming
firmer, dearer, more pleasing, more honourable, and more virtuous
habitudes. The Romans carried this principle a great way. Even the
holding of offices together, the disposition of which arose from chance,
not selection, gave rise to a relation which continued for life. It was
called necessitudo sortis; and it was looked upon with a sacred
reverence. Breaches of any of these kinds of civil relation were
considered as acts of the most distinguished turpitude. The whole people
was distributed into political societies, in which they acted in support
of such interests in the state as they severally affected. For it was
then thought no crime to endeavour, by every honest means, to advance to
superiority and power those of your own sentiments and opinions. This
wise people was far from imagining that those connections had no tie,
and obliged to no duty; but that men might quit them without shame, upon
every call of interest. They believed private honour to be the great
foundation of public trust; that friendship was no mean step towards
patriotism; that he who, in the common intercourse of life, showed he
regarded somebody besides himself, when he came to act in a public
situation, might probably consult some other interest than his own.


They were a race of men (I hope in God the species is extinct) who, when
they rose in their place, no man living could divine, from any known
adherence to parties, to opinions, or to principles, from any order or
system in their politics, or from any sequel or connection in their
ideas, what part they were going to take in any debate. It is
astonishing how much this uncertainty, especially at critical times,
called the attention of all parties on such men. All eyes were fixed on
them, all ears open to hear them; each party gaped, and looked
alternately for their vote, almost to the end of their speeches. While
the house hung on this uncertainty, now the HEAR HIMS rose from this
side--now they rebellowed from the other; and that party, to whom they
fell at length from their tremulous and dancing balance, always received
them in a tempest of applause. The fortune of such men was a temptation
too great to be resisted by one to whom a single whiff of incense
withheld gave much greater pain than he received delight in the clouds
of it which daily rose about him from the prodigal superstition of
innumerable admirers. He was a candidate for contradictory honours; and
his great aim was to make those agree in admiration of him who never
agreed in anything else.


Let us learn from our experience. It is not support that is wanting to
government, but reformation. When ministry rests upon public opinion, it
is not indeed built upon a rock of adamant; it has, however, some
stability. But when it stands upon private humour, its structure is of
stubble, and its foundation is on quicksand. I repeat it again--He that
supports every administration subverts all government. The reason is
this: The whole business in which a court usually takes an interest goes
on at present equally well, in whatever hands, whether high or low, wise
or foolish, scandalous or reputable; there is nothing, therefore, to
hold it firm to any one body of men, or to any one consistent scheme of
politics. Nothing interposes to prevent the full operation of all the
caprices and all the passions of a court upon the servants of the
public. The system of administration is open to continual shocks and
changes, upon the principles of the meanest cabal, and the most
contemptible intrigue. Nothing can be solid and permanent. All good men
at length fly with horror from such a service. Men of rank and ability,
with the spirit which ought to animate such men in a free state, while
they decline the jurisdiction of dark cabal on their actions and their
fortunes, will, for both, cheerfully put themselves upon their country.
They will trust an inquisitive and distinguishing parliament; because it
does inquire, and does distinguish. If they act well, they know that, in
such a parliament, they will be supported against any intrigue; if they
act ill, they know that no intrigue can protect them. This situation,
however awful, is honourable. But in one hour, and in the self-same
assembly, without any assigned or assignable cause, to be precipitated
from the highest authority to the most marked neglect, possibly into the
greatest peril of life and reputation, is a situation full of danger,
and destitute of honour. It will be shunned equally by every man of
prudence, and every man of spirit.


Nothing in the history of mankind is like their progress. For my part, I
never cast an eye on their flourishing commerce, and their cultivated
and commodious life, but they seem to me rather ancient nations grown to
perfection through a long series of fortunate events, and a train of
successful industry, accumulating wealth in many centuries, than the
colonies of yesterday; than a set of miserable outcasts, a few years
ago, not so much sent as thrown out, on the bleak and barren shore of a
desolate wilderness, three thousand miles from all civilized


That connection and faction are equivalent terms, is an opinion which
has been carefully inculcated at all times by unconstitutional
statesmen. The reason is evident. Whilst men are linked together, they
easily and speedily communicate the alarm of any evil design. They are
enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united
strength. Whereas, when they lie dispersed, without concert, order, or
discipline, communication is uncertain, counsel difficult, and
resistance impracticable. Where men are not acquainted with each other's
principles, nor experienced in each other's talents, nor at all
practised in their mutual habitudes and dispositions by joint efforts in
business; no personal confidence, no friendship, no common interest,
subsisting among them; it is evidently impossible that they can act a
public part with uniformity, perseverance, or efficacy. In a connection,
the most inconsiderable man, by adding to the weight of the whole, has
his value, and his use; out of it, the greatest talents are wholly
unserviceable to the public. No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory
into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported,
desultory, unsystematic endeavours, are of power to defeat the subtle
designs and united cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine,
the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied
sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.


Great men are the guide-posts and land-marks in the state. The credit of
such men at court, or in the nation, is the sole cause of all the public
measures. It would be an invidious thing (most foreign, I trust, to what
you think my disposition) to remark the errors into which the authority
of great names has brought the nation, without doing justice at the same
time to the great qualities whence that authority arose. The subject is
instructive to those who wish to form themselves on whatever of
excellence has gone before them. There are many young members in the
house (such of late has been the rapid succession of public men) who
never saw that prodigy, Charles Townshend; nor of course know what a
ferment he was able to excite in everything by the violent ebullition of
his mixed virtues and failings. For failings he had undoubtedly--many of
us remember them; we are this day considering the effect of them. But he
had no failings which were not owing to a noble cause; to an ardent,
generous, perhaps an immoderate, passion for fame; a passion which is
the instinct of all great souls.


The power of the people, within the laws, must show itself sufficient to
protect every representative in the animated performance of his duty, or
that duty cannot be performed. The House of Commons can never be a
control on other parts of government, unless they are controlled
themselves by their constituents; and unless these constituents possess
some right in the choice of that house, which it is not in the power of
that house to take away. If they suffer this power of arbitrary
incapacitation to stand, they have utterly perverted every other power
of the House of Commons. The late proceeding I will not say IS contrary
to law, it MUST be so; for the power which is claimed cannot, by any
possibility, be a legal power in any limited member of government.


It is no inconsiderable part of wisdom, to know how much of an evil
ought to be tolerated; lest, by attempting a degree of purity
impracticable in degenerate times and manners, instead of cutting off
the subsisting ill practices, new corruptions might be produced for the
concealment and security of the old. It were better, undoubtedly, that
no influence at all could affect the mind of a member of Parliament. But
of all modes of influence, in my opinion, a place under the government
is the least disgraceful to the man who holds it, and by far the most
safe to the country. I would not shut out that sort of influence which
is open and visible, which is connected with the dignity and the service
of the state, when it is not in my power to prevent the influence of
contracts, of subscriptions, of direct bribery, and those innumerable
methods of clandestine corruption, which are abundantly in the hands of
the court, and which will be applied as long as these means of
corruption, and the disposition to be corrupted, have existence among
us. Our constitution stands on a nice equipoise, with steep precipices
and deep waters upon all sides of it. In removing it from a dangerous
leaning towards one side, there may be a risk of oversetting it on the
other. Every project of a material change in a government so complicated
as ours, combined at the same time with external circumstances, still
more complicated, is a matter full of difficulties: in which a
considerate man will not be too ready to decide; a prudent man too ready
to undertake; or an honest man too ready to promise. They do not respect
the public nor themselves, who engage for more than they are sure that
they ought to attempt, or that they are able to perform.


No man ever doubted that the commodity of tea could bear an imposition
of threepence. But no commodity will bear threepence, or will bear a
penny, when the general feelings of men are irritated, and two millions
of people are resolved not to pay. The feelings of the colonies were
formerly the feelings of Great Britain. Theirs were formerly the
feelings of Mr. Hampden when called upon for the payment of twenty
shillings. Would twenty shillings have ruined Mr. Hampden's fortune? No!
but the payment of half twenty shillings, on the principle it was
demanded, would have made him a slave.


To be a good member of parliament is, let me tell you, no easy task;
especially at this time, when there is so strong a disposition to run
into the perilous extremes of servile compliance or wild popularity. To
unite circumspection with vigour is absolutely necessary; but it is
extremely difficult. We are now members for a rich commercial CITY; this
city, however, is but a part of a rich commercial NATION, the interests
of which are various, multiform, and intricate. We are members for that
great nation, which however is itself but part of a great EMPIRE,
extended by our virtue and our fortune to the farthest limits of the
east and of the west. All these wide-spread interests must be
considered; must be compared; must be reconciled, if possible. We are
members for a FREE country; and surely we all know, that the machine of
a free constitution is no simple thing; but as intricate and as delicate
as it is valuable. We are members in a great and ancient MONARCHY; and
we must preserve religiously the true legal rights of the sovereign,
which form the key-stone that binds together the noble and
well-constructed arch of our empire and our constitution.


As to the wealth which the colonies have drawn from the sea by their
fisheries, you had all that matter fully opened at your bar. You surely
thought those acquisitions of value, for they seemed even to excite your
envy; and yet the spirit by which that enterprising employment has been
exercised ought rather, in my opinion, to have raised your esteem and
admiration. And pray, Sir, what in the world is equal to it! Pass by the
other parts, and look at the manner in which the people of New England
have of late carried on the whale fishery. Whilst we follow them among
the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the
deepest frozen recesses of Hudson's Bay and Davis's Straits, whilst we
are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear that they have
pierced into the opposite region of polar cold, that they are at the
antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the south. Falkland
Island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of
national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place in the progress of
their victorious industry. Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging
to them, than the accumulated winter of both the poles. We know that
whilst some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of
Africa, others run the longitude, and pursue their gigantic game along
the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed by their fisheries. No
climate that is not witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of
Holland, nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous and firm sagacity
of English enterprise, ever carried this most perilous mode of hard
industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent
people; a people who are still, as it were, but in the gristle, and not
yet hardened into the bone of manhood.


When I first devoted myself to the public service, I considered how I
should render myself fit for it; and this I did by endeavouring to
discover what it was that gave this country the rank it holds in the
world. I found that our prosperity and dignity arose principally, if not
solely, from two sources;--our constitution and commerce. Both these I
have spared no study to understand, and no endeavour to support.

The distinguishing part of our constitution is its liberty. To preserve
that liberty inviolate, seems the particular duty and proper trust of a
member of the House of Commons. But the liberty, the only liberty I
mean, is a liberty connected with order; that not only exists along with
order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them. It inheres
in good and steady government, as in its substance and vital principle.

The other source of our power is commerce, of which you are so large a
part, and which cannot exist, no more than your liberty, without a
connection with many virtues. It has ever been a very particular and a
very favourite object of my study, in its principles, and in its
details. I think many here are acquainted with the truth of what I say.
This I know, that I have ever had my house open, and my poor services
ready, for traders and manufacturers of every denomination. My favourite
ambition is to have those services acknowledged. I now appear before you
to make trial, whether my earnest endeavours have been so wholly
oppressed by the weakness of my abilities as to be rendered
insignificant in the eyes of a great trading city; or whether you choose
to give a weight to humble abilities, for the sake of the honest
exertions with which they are accompanied. This is my trial to?day. My
industry is not on trial. Of my industry I am sure, as far as my
constitution of mind and body admitted.


Let us, however, before with descend from this noble eminence, reflect
that this growth of our national prosperity has happened within the
short period of the life of man. It has happened within sixty-eight
years. There are those alive whose memory might touch the two
extremities. For instance, my Lord Bathurst might remember all the
stages of the progress. He was, in 1704, of an age at least to be made
to comprehend such things. He was then old enough "acta parentum jam
legere, et quae sit poterit cognoscere virtus." Suppose, Sir, that the
angel of this auspicious youth, foreseeing the many virtues which made
him one of the most amiable, as he is one of the most fortunate, men of
his age, had opened to him in vision, that when, in the fourth
generation, the third prince of the house of Brunswick had sat twelve
years on the throne of that nation, which (by the happy issue of
moderate and healing councils) was to be made Great Britain, he should
see his son, lord chancellor of England, turn back the current of
hereditary dignity to its fountain, and raise him to a higher rank of
peerage, whilst he enriched the family with a new one. If amidst these
bright and happy scenes of domestic honour and prosperity, that angel
should have drawn up the curtain, and unfolded the rising glories of his
country, and whilst he was gazing with admiration on the then commercial
grandeur of England, the genius should point out to him a little speck,
scarce visible in the mass of the national interest, a small seminal
principle, rather than a formed body, and should tell him--"Young man,
there is America--which at this day serves for little more than to amuse
you with stories of savage men, and uncouth manners; yet shall, before
you taste of death, show itself equal to the whole of that commerce
which now attracts the envy of the world. Whatever England has been
growing to by a progressive increase of improvement, brought in by
varieties of people, by succession of civilizing conquests and
civilizing settlements in a series of seventeen hundred years, you shall
see as much added to her by America in the course of a single life!" If
this state of his country had been foretold to him, would it not require
all the sanguine credulity of youth, and all the fervid glow of
enthusiasm, to make him believe it? Fortunate man, he has lived to see
it! Fortunate, indeed, if he lives to see nothing that shall vary the
prospect, and cloud the setting of his day!


Refined policy ever has been the parent of confusion; and ever will be
so, as long as the world endures. Plain good intention, which is as
easily discovered at the first view, as fraud is surely detected at
last, is, let me say, of no mean force in the government of mankind.
Genuine simplicity of heart is a healing and cementing principle. My
plan, therefore, being formed upon the most simple grounds imaginable,
may disappoint some people, when they hear it. It has nothing to
recommend it to the pruriency of curious ears. There is nothing at all
new and captivating in it. It has nothing of the splendour of the
project which has been lately laid upon your table by the noble lord in
the blue riband. It does not propose to fill your lobby with squabbling
colony agents, who will require the interposition of your mace, at every
instant, to keep the peace amongst them. It does not institute a
magnificent auction of finance, where captivated provinces come to
general ransom by bidding against each other, until you knock down the
hammer, and determine a proportion of payments beyond all the powers of
algebra to equalize and settle.


Peace implies reconciliation; and where there has been a material
dispute, reconciliation does in a manner always imply concession on the
one part or the other. In this state of things I make no difficulty in
affirming that the proposal ought to originate from us. Great and
acknowledged force is not impaired, either in effect or in opinion, by
an unwillingness to exert itself. The superior power may offer peace
with honour and with safety. Such an offer from such a power will be
attributed to magnanimity. But the concessions of the weak are the
concessions of fear. When such a one is disarmed, he is wholly at the
mercy of his superior; and he loses for ever that time and those chances
which, as they happen to all men, are the strength and resources of all
inferior power.


As for the trifling petulance which the rage of party stirs up in little
minds, though it should show itself even in this court, it has not made
the slightest impression on me. The highest flight of such clamorous
birds is winged in an inferior region of the air. We hear them, and we
look upon them, just as you, gentlemen, when you enjoy the serene air on
your lofty rocks, look down upon the gulls that skim the mud of your
river, when it is exhausted of its tide.


It ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in
the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved
communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great
weight with him; their opinion high respect; their business unremitted
attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his
satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to
prefer their interest to his own. But, his unbiassed opinion, his mature
judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you,
to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from
your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a
trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable.
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment;
and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your


Though I gave so far into his opinion, that I immediately threw my
thoughts into a sort of parliamentary form, I was by no means equally
ready to produce them. It generally argues some degree of natural
impotence of mind, or some want of knowledge of the world, to hazard
plans of government except from a seat of authority. Propositions are
made, not only ineffectually, but somewhat disreputably, when the minds
of men are not properly disposed for their reception: and for my part, I
am not ambitious of ridicule; not absolutely a candidate for disgrace.


They are "our children;" but when children ask for bread, we are not to
give a stone. Is it because the natural resistance of things, and the
various mutations of time, hinders our government, or any scheme of
government, from being any more than a sort of approximation to the
right, is it therefore that the colonies are to recede from it
infinitely? When this child of ours wishes to assimilate to its parent,
and to reflect with a true filial resemblance the beauteous countenance
of British liberty, are we to turn to them the shameful parts of our
constitution? are we to give them our weakness for their strength? our
opprobrium for their glory? and the slough of slavery, which we are not
able to work off, to serve them for their freedom?


If government were a matter of will upon any side, yours, without
question, ought to be superior. But government and legislation are
matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and what sort of
reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion; in
which one set of men deliberate, and another decide; and where those who
form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those
who hear the arguments?


Parliament is not a CONGRESS of ambassadors from different and hostile
interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate,
against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a DELIBERATIVE
assembly of ONE nation, with ONE interest, that of the whole; where, not
local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general
good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a
member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of
Bristol, but he is a member of PARLIAMENT.


This moral levelling is a SERVILE PRINCIPLE. It leads to practical
passive obedience far better than all the doctrines which the pliant
accommodation of theology to power has ever produced. It cuts up by the
roots, not only all idea of forcible resistance, but even of civil
opposition. It disposes men to an abject submission, not by opinion,
which may be shaken by argument or altered by passion, but by the strong
ties of public and private interest. For if all men who act in a public
situation are equally selfish, corrupt, and venal, what reason can be
given for desiring any sort of change, which, besides the evils which
must attend all changes, can be productive of no possible advantage? The
active men in the state are true samples of the mass. If they are
universally depraved, the commonwealth itself is not sound. We may amuse
ourselves with talking as much as we please of the virtue of middle or
humble life; that is, we may place our confidence in the virtue of those
who have never been tried. But if the persons who are continually
emerging out of that sphere be no better than those whom birth has
placed above it, what hopes are there in the remainder of the body,
which is to furnish the perpetual succession of the state? All who have
ever written on government are unanimous, that among a people generally
corrupt, liberty cannot long exist. And indeed how is it possible? when
those who are to make the laws, to guard, to enforce, or to obey them,
are, by a tacit confederacy of manners, indisposed to the spirit of all
generous and noble institutions.


I am not possessed of an exact common measure between real service and
its reward. I am very sure that states do sometimes receive services
which it is hardly in their power to reward according to their worth. If
I were to give my judgment with regard to this country, I do not think
the great efficient offices of the state to be overpaid. The service of
the public is a thing which cannot be put to auction, and struck down to
those who will agree to execute it the cheapest. When the proportion
between reward and service is our object, we must always consider of
what nature the service is, and what sort of men they are that must
perform it. What is just payment for one kind of labour, and full
encouragement for one kind of talents, is fraud and discouragement to
others. Many of the great offices have much duty to do, and much expense
of representation to maintain. A secretary of state, for instance, must
not appear sordid in the eyes of the ministers of other nations; neither
ought our ministers abroad to appear contemptible in the courts where
they reside. In all offices of duty, there is, almost necessarily, a
great neglect of all domestic affairs. A person in high office can
rarely take a view of his family house. If he sees that the state takes
no detriment, the state must see that his affairs should take as little.
I will even go so far as to affirm, that if men were willing to serve in
such situations without salary, they ought not to be permitted to do it.
Ordinary service must be secured by the motives to ordinary integrity. I
do not hesitate to say, that that state which lays its foundations in
rare and heroic virtues, will be sure to have its superstructure in the
basest profligacy and corruption. An honourable and fair profit is the
best security against avarice and rapacity; as in all things else, a
lawful and regulated enjoyment is the best security against debauchery
and excess. For as wealth is power, so all power will infallibly draw
wealth to itself by some means or other: and when men are left no way of
ascertaining their profits but by their means of obtaining them, those
means will be increased to infinity. This is true in all the parts of
administration, as well as in the whole. If any individual were to
decline his appointments, it might give an unfair advantage to
ostentatious ambition over unpretending service; it might breed
invidious comparisons; it might tend to destroy whatever little unity
and agreement may be found among ministers. And, after all, when an
ambitious man had run down his competitors by a fallacious show of
disinterestedness, and fixed himself in power by that means, what
security is there that he would not change his course, and claim as an
indemnity ten times more than he has given up?


Liberty, too, must be limited in order to be possessed. The degree of
restraint it is impossible in any case to settle precisely. But it ought
to be the constant aim of every wise public council to find out by
cautious experiments, and rational, cool endeavours, with how little,
not how much, of this restraint the community can subsist. For liberty
is a good to be improved, and not an evil to be lessened. It is not only
a private blessing of the first order, but the vital spring and energy
of the state itself, which has just so much life and vigour as there is
liberty in it. But whether liberty be advantageous or not (for I know it
is a fashion to decry the very principle), none will dispute that peace
is a blessing; and peace must in the course of human affairs be
frequently bought by some indulgence and toleration at least to liberty.
For as the sabbath (though of Divine institution) was made for man, not
man for the sabbath, government, which can claim no higher origin or
authority, in its exercise at least, ought to conform to the exigencies
of the time, and the temper and character of the people with whom it is
concerned; and not always to attempt violently to bend the people to
their theories of subjection. The bulk of mankind on their part are not
excessively curious concerning any theories whilst they are really
happy; and one sure symptom of an ill-conducted state is the propensity
of the people to resort to them.


The feudal baronage and the feudal knighthood, the roots of our
primitive constitution, were early transplanted into that soil, and grew
and flourished there. Magna Charta, if it did not give us originally the
House of Commons, gave us at least a house of commons of weight and
consequence. But your ancestors did not churlishly sit down alone to the
feast of Magna Charta. Ireland was made immediately a partaker. This
benefit of English laws and liberties, I confess, was not at first
extended to ALL Ireland. Mark the consequence. English authority and
English liberty had exactly the same boundaries. Your standard could
never be advanced an inch beyond your privileges. Sir John Davis shows,
beyond a doubt, that the refusal of a general communication of these
rights was the true cause why Ireland was five hundred years in
subduing; and after the vain projects of a military government,
attempted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it was soon discovered that
nothing could make that country English, in civility and allegiance, but
your laws and your forms of legislature. It was not English arms, but
the English constitution, that conquered Ireland. From that time Ireland
has ever had a general parliament, as she had before a partial
parliament. You changed the people; you altered the religion; but you
never touched the form or the vital substance of free government in that
kingdom. You deposed kings; you restored them; you altered the
succession to theirs, as well as to your own crown; but you never
altered their constitution; the principle of which was respected by
usurpation; restored with the restoration of monarchy, and established,
I trust, for ever, by the glorious Revolution.


For that service, for all service, whether of revenue, trade, or empire,
my trust is in her interest in the British constitution. My hold of the
colonies is in the close affection which grows from common names, from
kindred blood, from similar privileges, and equal protection. These are
ties, which, though light as air, are as strong as links of iron. Let
the colonies always keep the idea of their civil rights associated with
your government;--they will cling and grapple to you; and no force under
heaven will be of power to tear them from their allegiance. But let it
be once understood that your government may be one thing, and their
privileges another; that these two things may exist without any mutual
relation; the cement is gone; the cohesion is loosened; and everything
hastens to decay and dissolution. As long as you have the wisdom to keep
the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the
sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever the chosen race
and sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces towards
you. The more they multiply, the more friends you will have; the more
ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience.
Slavery they can have anywhere. It is a weed that grows in every soil.
They may have it from Spain, they may have it from Prussia. But, until
you become lost to all feeling of your true interest and your natural
dignity, freedom they can have from none but you. This is the commodity
of price, of which you have the monopoly. This is the true act of
navigation, which binds to you the commerce of the colonies, and through
them secures to you the wealth of the world. Deny them this
participation of freedom, and you break that sole bond, which originally
made, and must still preserve, the unity of the empire. Do not entertain
so weak an imagination, as that your registers and your bonds, your
affidavits and your sufferances, your cockets and your clearances, are
what form the great securities of your commerce. Do not dream that your
letters of office, and your instructions, and your suspending clauses,
are the things that hold together the great contexture of this
mysterious whole. These things do not make your government. Dead
instruments, passive tools as they are, it is the spirit of the English
communion that gives all their life and efficacy to them. It is the
spirit of the English constitution, which, infused through the mighty
mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, vivifies every part of the
empire, even down to the minutest member.


At the first fatal opening of this contest, the wisest course seemed to
be to put an end as soon as possible to the immediate causes of the
dispute; and to quiet a discussion, not easily settled upon clear
principles, and arising from claims, which pride would permit neither
party to abandon, by resorting as nearly as possible to the old,
successful course. A mere repeal of the obnoxious tax, with a
declaration of the legislative authority of this kingdom, was then fully
sufficient to procure peace to BOTH SIDES. Man is a creature of habit,
and, the first breach being of very short continuance, the colonies fell
back exactly into their ancient state. The congress has used an
expression with regard to this pacification, which appears to me truly
significant. After the repeal of the Stamp Act, "the colonies fell,"
says this assembly, "into their ancient state of UNSUSPECTING CONFIDENCE
IN THE MOTHER COUNTRY." This unsuspecting confidence is the true centre
of gravity amongst mankind, about which all the parts are at rest. It is
this UNSUSPECTING CONFIDENCE that removes all difficulties, and
reconciles all the contradictions which occur in the complexity of all
ancient, puzzled, political establishments. Happy are the rulers which
have the secret of preserving it!


When men receive obligations from the Crown, through the pious hands of
fathers, or of connections as venerable as the paternal, the
dependencies which arise from thence are the obligations of gratitude,
and not the fetters of servility. Such ties originate in virtue, and
they promote it. They continue men in those habitudes of friendship,
those political connexions, and those political principles, in which
they began life. They are antidotes against a corrupt levity, instead of
causes of it. What an unseemly spectacle would it afford, what a
disgrace would it be to the commonwealth that suffered such things, to
see the hopeful son of a meritorious minister begging his bread at the
door of that treasury, from whence his father dispensed the economy of
an empire, and promoted the happiness and glory of his country! Why
should he be obliged to prostrate his honour, and to submit his
principles at the levee of some proud favourite, shouldered and thrust
aside by every impudent pretender, on the very spot where a few days
before he saw himself adored?--obliged to cringe to the author of the
calamities of his house, and to kiss the hands that are red with his
father's blood.


But nothing in progression can rest on its original plan. We may as well
think of rocking a grown man in the cradle of an infant. Therefore as
the colonies prospered and increased to a numerous and mighty people,
spreading over a very great tract of the globe; it was natural that they
should attribute to assemblies, so respectable in their formal
constitution, some part of the dignity of the great nations which they
represented. No longer tied to by-laws, these assemblies made acts of
all sorts and in all cases whatsoever. They levied money, not for
parochial purposes, but upon regular grants to the Crown, following all
the rules and principles of a parliament to which they approached every
day more and more nearly. Those who think themselves wiser than
Providence, and stronger than the course of nature, may complain of all
this variation, on the one side or the other, as their several humours
and prejudices may lead them. But things could not be otherwise; and
English colonies must be had on these terms, or not had at all.


In the first place, it is formed, in many respects, upon FEUDAL
PRINCIPLES. In the feudal times, it was not uncommon, even among
subjects, for the lowest offices to be held by considerable persons;
persons as unfit by their incapacity, as improper from their rank, to
occupy such employments. They were held by patent, sometimes for life,
and sometimes by inheritance. If my memory does not deceive me, a person
of no slight consideration held the office of patent hereditary cook to
an earl of Warwick. The earl of Warwick's soups, I fear, were not the
better for the dignity of his kitchen. I think it was an earl of
Gloucester, who officiated as steward of the household to the
archbishops of Canterbury. Instances of the same kind may in some degree
be found in the Northumberland house-book, and other family records.
There was some reason in ancient necessities, for these ancient customs.
Protection was wanted; and the domestic tie, thought not the highest,
was the closest. The king's household has not only several strong traces
of this FEUDALITY, but it is formed also upon the principles of a BODY
CORPORATE; it has its own magistrates, courts, and by-laws. This might
be necessary in the ancient times, in order to have a government within
itself, capable of regulating the vast and often unruly multitude which
composed and attended it. This was the origin of the ancient court
called the GREEN CLOTH--composed of the marshal, treasurer, and other
great officers of the household, with certain clerks. The rich subjects
of the kingdom who had formerly the same establishments (only on a
reduced scale) have since altered their economy; and turned the course
of their expense from the maintenance of vast establishments within
their walls, to the employment of a great variety of independent trades
abroad. Their influence is lessened; but a mode of accommodation, and a
style of splendour, suited to the manners of the times, has been
increased. Royalty itself has insensibly followed; and the royal
household has been carried away by the resistless tide of manners: but
with this very material difference;--private men have got rid of the
establishments along with the reasons of them; whereas the royal
household has lost all that was stately and venerable in the antique
manners, without retrenching anything of the cumbrous charge of a Gothic
establishment. It is shrunk into the polished littleness of modern
elegance and personal accommodation; it has evaporated from the gross
concrete into an essence and rectified spirit of expense, where you have
tuns of ancient pomp in a vial of modern luxury.


I know, that all parsimony is of a quality approaching to unkindness;
and that (on some person or other) every reform must operate as a sort
of punishment. Indeed, the whole class of the severe and restrictive
virtues are at a market almost too high for humanity. What is worse,
there are very few of those virtues which are not capable of being
imitated, and even outdone, in many of their most striking effects, by
the worst of vices. Malignity and envy will carve much more deeply, and
finish much more sharply, in the work of retrenchment, than frugality
and providence. I do not, therefore, wonder that gentlemen have kept
away from such a task, as well from good-nature as from prudence.
Private feeling might, indeed, be overborne by legislative reason; and a
man of a longd-sighted and a strong-nerved humanity might bring himself,
not so much to consider from whom he takes a superfluous enjoyment, as
for whom in the end he may preserve the absolute necessaries of life.


I hope there are none of you corrupted with the doctrine taught by
wicked men for the worst purposes, and received by the malignant
credulity of envy and ignorance, which is, that the men who act upon the
public stage are all alike; all equally corrupt; all influenced by no
other views than the sordid lure of salary and pension. The thing I know
by experience to be false. Never expecting to find perfection in men,
and not looking for divine attributes in created beings, in my commerce
with my contemporaries, I have found much human virtue. I have seen not
a little public spirit; a real subordination of interest to duty; and a
decent and regulated sensibility to honest fame and reputation. The age
unquestionably produces (whether in a greater or less number than former
times, I know not) daring profligates, and insidious hypocrites. What
then? Am I not to avail myself of whatever good is to be found in the
world, because of the mixture of evil that will always be in it? The
smallness of the quantity in currency only heightens the value. They who
raise suspicions on the good on account of the behaviour of ill men, are
of the party of the latter. The common cant is no justification for
taking this party. I have been deceived, say they, by Titius and
Maevius; I have been the dupe of this pretender or of that mountebank;
and I can trust appearances no longer. But my credulity and want of
discernment cannot, as I conceive, amount to a fair presumption against
any man's integrity. A conscientious person would rather doubt his own
judgment, than condemn his species. He would say, I have observed
without attention, or judged upon erroneous maxims; I trusted to
profession, when I ought to have attended to conduct. Such a man will
grow wise, not malignant, by his acquaintance with the world. But he
that accuses all mankind of corruption, ought to remember that he is
sure to convict only one. In truth I should much rather admit those,
whom at any time I have disrelished the most, to be patterns of
perfection, than seek a consolation to my own unworthiness, in a general
communion of depravity with all about me.


What (says the financier) is peace to us without money? Your plan gives
us no revenue. No! But it does--for it secures to the subject the power
of REFUSAL; the first of all revenues. Experience is a cheat, and fact a
liar, if this power in the subject of proportioning his grant, or of not
granting at all, has not been found the richest mine of revenue ever
discovered by the skill or by the fortune of man. It does not indeed
vote you 152,752 pounds : 11 : 2 3/4ths, nor any other paltry limited
sum. But it gives the strong box itself, the fund, the bank, from whence
only revenues can arise amongst a people sensible of freedom: Posita
luditur arca. Cannot you in England; cannot you at this time of day;
cannot you, a House of Commons, trust to the principle which has raised
so mighty a revenue, and accumulated a debt of near 140 millions in this
country? Is this principle to be true in England, and false everywhere
else? Is it not true in Ireland? Has it not hitherto been true in the
colonies? Why should you presume, that, in any country, a body duly
constituted for any function, will neglect to perform its duty, and
abdicate its trust? Such a presumption would go against all governments
in all modes. But, in truth, this dread of penury of supply, from a free
assembly, has no foundation in nature. For first observe, that besides
the desire which all men have naturally of supporting the honour of
their own government, that sense of dignity, and that security to
property, which ever attend freedom, have a tendency to increase the
stock of the free community. Most may be taken where most is
accumulated. And what is the soil or climate where experience has not
uniformly proved, that the voluntary flow of heaped-up plenty, bursting
from the weight of its own rich luxuriance, has ever run with a more
copious stream of revenue, than could be squeezed from the dry husks of
oppressed indigence, by the straining of all the politic machinery in
the world.


The only method which has ever been found effectual to preserve any man
against the corruption of nature and example, is a habit of life and
communication of counsels with the most virtuous and public-spirited men
of the age you live in. Such a society cannot be kept without advantage
or deserted without shame. For this rule of conduct I may be called in
reproach a PARTY MAN; but I am little affected with such aspersions. In
the way which they call party, I worship the constitution of your
fathers; and I shall never blush for my political company. All reverence
to honour, all idea of what it is, will be lost out of the world, before
it can be imputed as a fault to any man, that he has been closely
connected with those incomparable persons, living and dead, with whom
for eleven years I have constantly thought and acted. If I have wandered
out of the paths of rectitude into those of interested faction, it was
in company with the Saviles, the Dowdeswells, the Wentworths, the
Bentincks; with the Lenoxes, the Manchesters, the Keppels, the
Saunderses; with the temperate, permanent, hereditary virtue of the
whole house of Cavendish; names, among which, some have extended your
fame and empire in arms, and all have fought the battle of your
liberties in fields not less glorious. These, and many more like these,
grafting public principles on private honour, have redeemed the present
age, and would have adorned the most splendid period in your history.


Is it not the same virtue which does everything for us here in England?
Do you imagine, then, that it is the land-tax which raises your revenue?
that it is the annual vote in the committee of supply, which gives you
your army? or that it is the Mutiny Bill, which inspires it with bravery
and discipline? No! surely no! It is the love of the people; it is their
attachment to their government, from the sense of the deep stake they
have in such a glorious institution, which gives you your army and your
navy, and infuses into both that liberal obedience, without which your
army would be a base rabble, and your navy nothing but rotten timber.

All this, I know well enough, will sound wild and chimerical to the
profane herd of those vulgar and mechanical politicians, who have no
place among us; a sort of people who think that nothing exists but what
is gross and material; and who therefore, far from being qualified to be
directors of the great movement of empire, are not fit to turn a wheel
in the machine. But to men truly initiated and rightly taught, these
ruling and master principles, which, in the opinion of such men as I
have mentioned, have no substantial existence, are in truth everything,
and all in all. Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom;
and a great empire and little minds go ill together. If we are conscious
of our situation, and glow with zeal to fill our places as becomes our
station and ourselves, we ought to auspicate all our public proceedings
on America, with the old warning of the Church, Sursum corda! We ought
to elevate our minds to the greatness of that trust to which the order
of Providence has called us. By adverting to the dignity of this high
calling, our ancestors have turned a savage wilderness into a glorious
empire; and have made the most extensive, and the only honourable
conquests, not by destroying, but by promoting the wealth, the number,
the happiness of the human race. Let us get an American revenue as we
have got an American empire. English privileges have made it all that it
is; English privileges alone will make it all it can be.


If anything were wanting to this necessary operation of the form of
government, religion would have given it a complete effect. Religion,
always a principle of energy, in this new people is no way worn out or
impaired; and their mode of professing it is also one main cause of this
free spirit. The people are Protestants; and of that kind which is the
most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion. This is a
persuasion not only favourable to liberty, but built upon it. I do not
think, Sir, that the reason of this averseness in the dissenting
churches, from all that looks like absolute government, is so much to be
sought in their religious tenets, as in their history. Every one knows
that the Roman Catholic religion is at least coeval with most of the
governments where it prevails; that it has generally gone hand in hand
with them, and received great favour and every kind of support from
authority. The Church of England, too, was formed from her cradle, under
the nursing care of regular government. But the dissenting interests
have sprung up in direct opposition to all the ordinary powers of the
world; and could justify that opposition only on a strong claim to
natural liberty. Their very existence depended on the powerful and
unremitted assertion of that claim. All Protestantism, even the most
cold and passive, is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent
in our northern colonies is a refinement on the principle of resistance;
it is the dissidence of dissent, and the Protestantism of the Protestant


I am resolved this day to have nothing at all to do with the question of
the right of taxation. Some gentlemen startle, but it is true; I put it
totally out of the question. It is less than nothing in my
consideration. I do not indeed wonder, nor will you, Sir, that gentlemen
of profound learning are fond of displaying it on this profound subject.
But my consideration is narrow, confined, and wholly limited to the
policy of the question. I do not examine whether the giving away a man's
money be a power excepted and reserved out of the general trust of
government; and how far all mankind, in all forms of polity, are
entitled to an exercise of that right by the charter of nature. Or
whether, on the contrary, a right of taxation is necessarily involved in
the general principle of legislation, and inseparable from the ordinary
supreme power. These are deep questions, where great names militate
against each other; where reason is perplexed; and an appeal to
authorities only thickens the confusion. For high and reverend
authorities lift up their heads on both sides; and there is no sure
footing in the middle. This point is the GREAT SERBONIAN BOG, BETWIXT
intend to be overwhelmed in that bog, though in such respectable
company. The question with me is, not whether you have a right to render
your people miserable; but whether it is not your interest to make them
happy. It is not what a lawyer tells me I MAY do; but what humanity,
reason, and justice tell me I ought to do. Is a politic act the worse
for being a generous one? Is no concession proper, but that which is
made from your want of right to keep what you grant? Or does it lessen
the grace or dignity of relaxing in the exercise of an odious claim,
because you have your evidence-room full of titles, and your magazines
stuffed with arms to enforce them? What signify all those titles, and
all those arms? Of what avail are they, when the reason of the thing
tells me, that the assertion of my title is the loss of my suit; and
that I could do nothing but wound myself by the use of my own weapons?


It is exceedingly common for men to contract their love to their country
into an attachment to its petty subdivisions; and they sometimes even
cling to their provincial abuses, as if they were franchises and local
privileges. Accordingly, in places where there is much of this kind of
estate, persons will be always found who would rather trust to their
talents in recommending themselves to power for the renewal of their
interests, than to incumber their purses, though never so lightly, in
order to transmit independence to their posterity. It is a great
mistake, that the desire of securing property is universal among
mankind. Gaming is a principle inherent in human nature. It belongs to
us all. I would therefore break those tables; I would furnish no evil
occupation for that spirit. I would make every man look everywhere,
except to the intrigue of a court, for the improvement of his
circumstances, or the security of his fortune.


I am sure that the only means of checking precipitate degeneracy is
heartily to concur with whatever is the best in our time; and to have
some more correct standard of judging what that best is, than the
transient and uncertain favour of a court. If once we are able to find,
and can prevail on ourselves to strengthen, a union of such men,
whatever accidentally becomes indisposed to ill-exercised power, even by
the ordinary operation of human passions, must join with that society,
and cannot long be joined without in some degree assimilating to it.
Virtue will catch as well as vice by contact; and the public stock of
honest, manly principle will daily accumulate. We are not too nicely to
scrutinize motives as long as action is irreproachable. It is enough
(and for a worthy man perhaps too much) to deal out its infamy to
convicted guilt and declared apostacy.


But there is a time when men will not suffer bad things because their
ancestors have suffered worse. There is a time when the hoary head of
inveterate abuse will neither draw reverence nor obtain protection. If
the noble lord in the blue riband pleads "not guilty" to the charges
brought against the present system of public economy, it is not possible
to give a fair verdict by which he will not stand acquitted. But
pleading is not our present business. His plea or his traverse may be
allowed as an answer to a charge, when a charge is made. But if he puts
himself in the way to obstruct reformation, then the faults of his
office instantly become his own. Instead of a public officer in an
abusive department, whose province is an object to be regulated, he
becomes a criminal who is to be punished. I do most seriously put it to
administration, to consider the wisdom of a timely reform. Early
reformations are amicable arrangements with a friend in power; late
reformations are terms imposed upon a conquered enemy: early
reformations are made in cool blood; late reformations are made under a
state of inflammation. In that state of things people behold in
government nothing that is respectable. They see the abuse, and they
will see nothing else: they fall into the temper of a furious populace
provoked at the disorder of a house of ill-fame; they never attempt to
correct or regulate; they go to work by the shortest way--they abate the
nuisance, they pull down the house.


Nothing, you know, is more common than for men to wish, and call loudly,
too, for a reformation, who, when it arrives, do by no means like the
severity of its aspect. Reformation is one of those pieces which must be
put at some distance in order to please. Its greatest favourers love it
better in the abstract than in the substance. When any old prejudice of
their own, or any interest that they value, is touched, they become
scrupulous, they become captious, and every man has his separate
exception. Some pluck out the black hairs, some the gray; one point must
be given up to one; another point must be yielded to another; nothing is
suffered to prevail upon its own principle; the whole is so frittered
down, and disjointed, that scarcely a trace of the original scheme
remains! Thus, between the resistance of power, and the unsystematical
process of popularity, the undertaker and the undertaking are both
exposed, and the poor reformer is hissed off the stage both by friends
and foes.


If honesty be true policy with regard to the transient interest of
individuals, it is much more certainly so with regard to the permanent
interests of communities. I know, that it is but too natural for us to
see our own CERTAIN ruin in the POSSIBLE prosperity of other people. It
is hard to persuade us, that everything which is GOT by another is not
TAKEN from ourselves. But it is fit that we should get the better of
these suggestions, which come from what is not the best and soundest
part of our nature, and that we should form to ourselves a way of
thinking, more rational, more just, and more religious. Trade is not a
limited thing; as if the objects of mutual demand and consumption could
not stretch beyond the bounds of our jealousies. God has given the earth
to the children of men, and he has undoubtedly, in giving it to them,
given them what is abundantly sufficient for all their exigencies; not a
scanty, but a most liberal, provision for them all. The author of our
nature has written it strongly in that nature, and has promulgated the
same law in his written word, that man shall eat his bread by his
labour; and I am persuaded, that no man, and no combination of men, for
their own ideas of their particular profit, can, without great impiety,
undertake to say, that he SHALL NOT do so; that they have no sort of
right, either to prevent the labour, or to withhold the bread.


There are people who have split and anatomised the doctrine of free
government, as if it were an abstract question concerning metaphysical
liberty and necessity; and not a matter of moral prudence and natural
feeling. They have disputed, whether liberty be a positive or a negative
idea; whether it does not consist in being governed by laws, without
considering what are the laws, or who are the makers; whether man has
any rights by nature; and whether all the property he enjoys be not the
alms of his government, and his life itself their favour and indulgence.
Others corrupting religion, as these have perverted philosophy, contend,
that Christians are redeemed into captivity; and the blood of the
Saviour of mankind has been shed to make them the slaves of a few proud
and insolent sinners. These shocking extremes provoking to extremes of
another kind, speculations are let loose as destructive to all
authority, as the former are to all freedom; and every government is
called tyranny and usurpation which is not formed on their fancies. In
this manner the stirrers-up of this contention, not satisfied with
distracting our dependencies and filling them with blood and slaughter,
are corrupting our understandings; they are endeavouring to tear up,
along with practical liberty, all the foundations of human society, all
equity and justice, religion and order.


Economy and public spirit have made a beneficent and an honest spoil;
they have plundered from extravagance and luxury, for the use of
substantial service, a revenue of near four hundred thousand pounds. The
reform of the finances, joined to this reform of the court, gives to the
public nine hundred thousand pounds a year and upwards.

The minister who does these things is a great man--but the king who
desires that they should be done is a far greater. We must do justice to
our enemies--these are the acts of a patriot king. I am not in dread of
the vast armies of France; I am not in dread of the gallant spirit of
its brave and numerous nobility; I am not alarmed even at the great navy
which has been so miraculously created. All these things Louis the
Fourteenth had before. With all these things, the French monarchy has
more than once fallen prostrate at the feet of the public faith of Great
Britain. It was the want of public credit which disabled France from
recovering after her defeats, or recovering even from her victories and
triumphs. It was a prodigal court, it was an ill-ordered revenue, that
sapped the foundations of all her greatness. Credit cannot exist under
the arm of necessity. Necessity strikes at credit, I allow, with a
heavier and quicker blow under an arbitrary monarchy, than under a
limited and balanced government; but still necessity and credit are
natural enemies, and cannot be long reconciled in any situation. From
necessity and corruption, a free state may lose the spirit of that
complex constitution which is the foundation of confidence.


Whenever we improve, it is right to leave room for a further
improvement. It is right to consider, to look about us, to examine the
effect of what we have done. Then we can proceed with confidence,
because we can proceed with intelligence. Whereas in hot reformations,
in what men, more zealous than considerate, call MAKING CLEAR WORK, the
whole is generally so crude, so harsh, so indigested; mixed with so much
imprudence, and so much injustice; so contrary to the whole course of
human nature and human institutions, that the very people who are most
eager for it are among the first to grow disgusted at what they have
done. Then some part of the abdicated grievance is recalled from its
exile in order to become a corrective of the correction. Then the abuse
assumes all the credit and popularity of a reform. The very idea of
purity and disinterestedness in politics falls into disrepute, and is
considered as a vision of hot and inexperienced men; and thus disorders
become incurable, not by the virulence of their own quality, but by the
unapt and violent nature of the remedies. A great part, therefore, of my
idea of reform is meant to operate gradually; some benefits will come at
a nearer, some at a more remote period. We must no more make haste to be
rich by parsimony, than by intemperate acquisition.


Civil freedom, gentlemen, is not, as many have endeavoured to persuade
you, a thing that lies hid in the depth of abstruse science. It is a
blessing and a benefit, not an abstract speculation; and all the just
reasoning that can be upon it is of so coarse a texture, as perfectly to
suit the ordinary capacities of those who are to enjoy, and of those who
are to defend it. Far from any resemblance to those propositions in
geometry and metaphysics, which admit no medium, but must be true or
false in all their latitude; social and civil freedom, like all other
things in common life, are variously mixed and modified, enjoyed in very
different degrees, and shaped into an infinite diversity of forms,
according to the temper and circumstances of every community. The
EXTREME of liberty (which is its abstract perfection, but its real
fault) obtains nowhere, nor ought to obtain anywhere. Because extremes,
as we all know, in every point which relates either to our duties or
satisfactions in life, are destructive both to virtue and enjoyment.


When any community is subordinately connected with another, the great
danger of the connection is the extreme pride and self-complacency of
the superior, which in all matters of controversy will probably decide
in its own favour. It is a powerful corrective to such a very rational
cause of fear if the inferior body can be made to believe that the party
inclination, or political views, of several in the principal state will
induce them in some degree to counteract this blind and tyrannical
partiality. There is no danger that any one acquiring consideration or
power in the presiding state should carry this leaning to the inferior
too far. The fault of human nature is not of that sort. Power, in
whatever hands, is rarely guilty of too strict limitations on itself.
But one great advantage to the support of authority attends such an
amicable and protecting connection, that those who have conferred
favours obtain influence; and from the foresight of future events can
persuade men who have received obligations, sometimes to return them.
Thus, by the mediation of those healing principles (call them good or
evil), troublesome discussions are brought to some sort of adjustment,
and every hot controversy is not a civil war.


The individual good felt in a public benefit is comparatively so small,
comes round through such an involved labyrinth of intricate and tedious
revolutions; whilst a present, personal detriment is so heavy where it
falls, and so instant in its operation, that the cold commendation of a
public advantage never was, and never will be a match for the quick
sensibility of a private loss: and you may depend upon it, sir, that
when many people have an interest in railing, sooner or later, they will
bring a considerable degree of unpopularity upon any measure, So that,
for the present at least, the reformation will operate against the
reformers, and revenge (as against them at the least) will produce all
the effects of corruption.


Nor is it the worst effect of this unnatural contention, that our LAWS
are corrupted. Whilst MANNERS remain entire, they will correct the vices
of law, and soften it at length to their own temper. But we have to
lament, that in most of the late proceedings we see very few traces of
that generosity, humanity, and dignity of mind which formerly
characterized this nation. War suspends the rules of moral obligation,
and what is long suspended is in danger of being totally abrogated.
Civil wars strike deepest of all into the manners of the people. They
vitiate their politics; they corrupt their morals; they pervert even the
natural taste and relish of equity and justice. By teaching us to
consider our fellow-citizens in a hostile light, the whole body of our
nation becomes gradually less dear to us. The very names of affection
and kindred, which were the bond of charity whilst we agreed, become new
incentives to hatred and rage when the communion of our country is
dissolved. We may flatter ourselves that we shall not fall into this
misfortune. But we have no charter of exemption, that I know of, from
the ordinary frailties of our nature.


A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood. He would
feel some apprehension at being called to a tremendous account for
engaging in so deep a play, without any sort of knowledge of the game.
It is no excuse for presumptuous ignorance, that it is directed by
insolent passion. The poorest being that crawls on earth, contending to
save itself from injustice and oppression, is an object respectable in
the eyes of God and man. But I cannot conceive any existence under
heaven (which, in the depths of its wisdom, tolerates all sorts of
things) that is more truly odious and disgusting, than an impotent
helpless creature, without civil wisdom or military skill, without a
consciousness of any other qualification for power but his servility to
it, bloated with pride and arrogance, calling for battles which he is
not to fight, contending for a violent dominion which he can never
exercise, and satisfied to be himself mean and miserable, in order to
render others contemptible and wretched.


Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny. In such a country as this they
are of all bad things the worst, worse by far than anywhere else; and
they derive a particular malignity even from the wisdom and soundness of
the rest of our institutions. For very obvious reasons you cannot trust
the crown with a dispensing power over any of your laws. However, a
government, be it as bad as it may, will, in the exercise of a
discretionary power, discriminate times and persons; and will not
ordinarily pursue any man when its own safety is not concerned. A
mercenary informer knows no distinction. Under such a system, the
obnoxious people are slaves, not only to the government, but they live
at the mercy of every individual; they are at once the slaves of the
whole community, and of every part of it; and the worst and most
unmerciful men are those on whose goodness they most depend.

In this situation men not only shrink from the frowns of a stern
magistrate, but they are obliged to fly from their very species. The
seeds of destruction are sown in civil intercourse, in social habitudes.
The blood of wholesome kindred is infected. Their tables and beds are
surrounded with snares. All the means given by Providence to make life
safe and comfortable are perverted into instruments of terror and
torment. This species of universal subserviency, that makes the very
servant who waits behind your chair the arbiter of your life and
fortune, has such a tendency to degrade and abase mankind, and to
deprive them of that assured and liberal state of mind which alone can
make us what we ought to be, that I vow to God I would sooner bring
myself to put a man to immediate death for opinions I disliked, and so
to get rid of the man and his opinions at once, than to fret him with a
feverish being, tainted with the jail-distemper of a contagious
servitude, to keep him above ground an animated mass of putrefaction,
corrupted himself, and corrupting all about him.


If we repent of our good actions, what, I pray you, is left for our
faults and follies? It is not the beneficence of the laws, it is the
unnatural temper which beneficence can fret and sour that is to be
lamented. It is this temper which, by all rational means, ought to be
sweetened and corrected. If froward men should refuse this cure, can
they vitiate anything but themselves? Does evil so react upon good, as
not only to retard its motion, but to change its nature? If it can so
operate, then good men will always be in the power of the bad; and
virtue, by a dreadful reverse of order, must lie under perpetual
subjection and bondage to vice.


With very few, and those inconsiderable, intervals, the British
dominion, either in the Company's name, or in the names of princes
absolutely dependent upon the Company, extends from the mountains that
separate India from Tartary to Cape Comorin,--that is, one-and-twenty
degrees of latitude!

In the northern parts it is a solid mass of land, about eight hundred
miles in length, and four or five hundred broad. As you go southward, it
becomes narrower for a space. It afterwards dilates; but, narrower or
broader, you possess the whole eastern and north-eastern coast of that
vast country, quite from the borders of Pegu. Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa,
with Benares (now unfortunately in our immediate possession), measure
161,978 square English miles; a territory considerably larger than the
whole kingdom of France. Oude, with its dependent provinces, is 53,286
square miles, not a great deal less than England. The Carnatic, with
Tanjore and the Circars, is 65,948 square miles, very considerably
larger than England; and the whole of the Company's dominions,
comprehending Bombay and Salsette, amounts to 281,412 square miles;
which forms a territory larger than any European dominion, Russia and
Turkey excepted. Through all that vast extent of country there is not a
man who eats a mouthful of rice but by permission of the East-India

So far with regard to the extent. The population of this great empire is
not easily to be calculated. When the countries, of which it is
composed, came into our possession, they were all eminently peopled, and
eminently productive; though at that time considerably declined from
their ancient prosperity. But, since they are come into our hands!--!
However, if we make the period of our estimate immediately before the
utter desolation of the Carnatic, and if we allow for the havoc which
our government had even then made in these regions, we cannot, in my
opinion, rate the population at much less than thirty millions of
souls,--more than four times the number of persons in the Island of
Great Britain.

My next inquiry to that of the number, is the quality and description of
the inhabitants. This multitude of men does not consist of an abject and
barbarous populace; much less of gangs of savages, like the Guaranies
and Chiquitos, who wander on the waste borders of the river of Amazons,
or the Plate; but a people for ages civilized and cultivated; cultivated
by all the arts of polished life, whilst we were yet in the woods. There
have been (and still the skeletons remain) princes once of great
dignity, authority, and opulence. There are to be found the chiefs of
tribes and nations. There is to be found an ancient and venerable
priesthood, the depository of their laws, learning, and history, the
guides of the people whilst living, and their consolation in death; a
nobility of great antiquity and renown; a multitude of cities, not
exceeded in population and trade by those of the first class in Europe;
merchants and bankers, individual houses of whom have once vied in
capital with the Bank of England; whose credit had often supported a
tottering state, and preserved their governments in the midst of war and
desolation; millions of ingenious manufacturers and mechanics; millions
of the most diligent, and not the least intelligent, tillers of the
earth. There are to be found almost all the religions professed by
men,--the Brahminical, the Mussulman, the Eastern and the Western

If I were to take the whole aggregate of our possessions there, I should
compare it, as the nearest parallel I can find, with the empire of
Germany. Our immediate possessions I should compare with the Austrian
dominions,--and they would not suffer in the comparison. The nabob of
Oude might stand for the king of Prussia; the nabob of Arcot I would
compare, as superior in territory and equal in revenue, to the elector
of Saxony. Cheyt Sing, the rajah of Benares, might well rank with the
prince of Hesse, at least; and the rajah of Tanjore (though hardly equal
in extent of dominion, superior in revenue), to the elector of Bavaria.
The Polygars and the northern Zemindars, and other great chiefs, might
well class with the rest of the princes, dukes, counts, marquises, and
bishops, in the empire; all of whom I mention to honour, and surely
without disparagement to any or all of those most respectable princes
and grandees. All this vast mass, composed of so many orders and classes
of men, is again infinitely advocated by manners, by religion, by
hereditary employment, through all their possible combinations. This
renders the handling of India a matter in a high degree critical and
delicate. But oh! it has been handled rudely indeed. Even some of the
reformers seem to have forgot that they had anything to do but to
regulate the tenants of a manor, or the shopkeepers of the next county

It is an empire of this extent, of this complicated nature, of this
dignity and importance, that I have compared to Germany, and the German
government; not for an exact resemblance, but as a sort of a middle
term, by which India might be approximated to our understandings, and if
possible to our feelings; in order to awaken something of sympathy for
the unfortunate natives, of which I am afraid we are not perfectly
susceptible, whilst we look at this very remote object through a false
and cloudy medium.


Honest men will not forget either their merit or their sufferings. There
are men (and many, I trust, there are) who, out of love to their country
and their kind, would torture their invention to find excuses for the
mistakes of their brethren; and who, to stifle dissension, would
construe even doubtful appearances with the utmost favour: such men will
never persuade themselves to be ingenious and refined in discovering
disaffection and treason in the manifest, palpable signs of suffering
loyalty. Persecution is so unnatural to them, that they gladly snatch
the very first opportunity of laying aside all the tricks and devices of
penal politics; and of returning home, after all their irksome and
vexatious wanderings, to our natural family mansion, to the grand social
principle, that unites all men, in all descriptions, under the shadow of
an equal and impartial justice.


The very attempt towards pleasing everybody discovers a temper always
flashy, and often false and insincere. Therefore as I have proceeded
straight onward in my conduct, so I will proceed in my account of those
parts of it which have been most excepted to. But I must first beg leave
just to hint to you, that we may suffer very great detriment by being
open to every talker. It is not to be imagined how much of service is
lost from spirits full of activity and full of energy, who are pressing,
who are rushing forward, to great and capital objects, when you oblige
them to be continually looking back. Whilst they are defending one
service, they defraud you of an hundred. Applaud us when we run; console
us when we fall; cheer us when we recover; but let us pass on--for God's
sake let us pass on.


And now, having done my duty to the bill, let me say a word to the
author. I should leave him to his own noble sentiments, if the unworthy
and illiberal language with which he has been treated, beyond all
example of parliamentary liberty, did not make a few words necessary;
not so much in justice to him, as to my own feelings. I must say, then,
that it will be a distinction honourable to the age, that the rescue of
the greatest number of the human race that ever were so grievously
oppressed, from the greatest tyranny that was ever exercised, has fallen
to the lot of abilities and dispositions equal to the task; that it has
fallen to one who has the enlargement to comprehend, the spirit to
undertake, and the eloquence to support, so great a measure of hazardous
benevolence. His spirit is not owing to his ignorance of the state of
men and things; he well knows what snares are spread about his path,
from personal animosity, from court intrigues, and possibly from popular
delusion. But he has put to hazard his ease, his security, his interest,
his power, even his darling popularity, for the benefit of a people whom
he has never seen. This is the road that all heroes have trod before
him. He is traduced and abused for his supposed motives. He will
remember, that obloquy is a necessary ingredient in the composition of
all true glory: he will remember, that it was not only in the Roman
customs, but it is in the nature and constitution of things, that
calumny and abuse are essential parts of triumph. These thoughts will
support a mind, which only exists for honour, under the burthen of
temporary reproach. He is doing indeed a great good; such as rarely
falls to the lot, and almost as rarely coincides with the desires, of
any man. Let him use his time. Let him give the whole length of the
reins to his benevolence. He is now on a great eminence, where the eyes
of mankind are turned to him. He may live long, he may do much. But here
is the summit. He never can exceed what he does this day.

He has faults; but they are faults that, though they may in a small
degree tarnish the lustre, and sometimes impede the march, of his
abilities, have nothing in them to extinguish the fire of great virtues.
In those faults there is no mixture of deceit, of hypocrisy, of pride,
of ferocity, of complexional despotism, or want of feeling for the
distresses of mankind. His are faults which might exist in a descendant
of Henry the Fourth of France, as they did exist in that father of his
country. Henry the Fourth wished that he might live to see a fowl in the
pot of every peasant in his kingdom. That sentiment of homely
benevolence was worth all the splendid sayings that are recorded of
kings. But he wished perhaps for more than could be obtained, and the
goodness of the man exceeded the power of the king. But this gentleman,
a subject, may this day say this at least, with truth, that he secures
the rice in his pot to every man in India. A poet of antiquity thought
it one of the first distinctions to a prince whom he meant to celebrate,
that through a long succession of generations, he had been the
progenitor of an able and virtuous citizen, who by force of the arts of
peace, had corrected governments of oppression, and suppressed wars of

Indole proh quanta juvenis, quantumque daturus
Ausoniae populis ventura in saecula civem.
Ille super Gangem, super exauditus et Indos,
Implebit terras voce; et furialia bella
Fulmine compescet linguae.--

This was what was said of the predecessor of the only person to whose
eloquence it does not wrong that of the mover of this bill to be
compared. But the Ganges and the Indus are the patrimony of the fame of
my honourable friend, and not of Cicero. I confess, I anticipate with
joy the reward of those, whose whole consequence, power, and authority,
exist only for the benefit of mankind; and I carry my mind to all the
people, and all the names and descriptions, that, relieved by this bill,
will bless the labours of this parliament, and the confidence which the
best House of Commons has given to him who the best deserves it. The
little cavils of party will not be heard, where freedom and happiness
will be felt. There is not a tongue, a nation, or religion in India
which will not bless the presiding care and manly beneficence of this
house, and of him who proposes to you this great work. Your names will
never be separated before the throne of the Divine goodness, in whatever
language, or with whatever rites, pardon is asked for sin, and reward
for those who imitate the Godhead in his universal bounty to his
creatures. These honours you deserve, and they will surely be paid, when
all the jargon of influence, and party, and patronage, are swept into


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.


The late House of Commons has been punished for its independence. That
example is made. Have we an example on record of a House of Commons
punished for its servility? The rewards of a senate so disposed are
manifest to the world. Several gentlemen are very desirous of altering
the constitution of the House of Commons; but they must alter the frame
and constitution of human nature itself before they can so fashion it by
any mode of election that its conduct will not be influenced by reward
and punishment, by fame, and by disgrace. If these examples take root in
the minds of men, what members hereafter will be bold enough not to be
corrupt? Especially as the king's highway of obsequiousness is so very
broad and easy. To make a passive member of parliament, no dignity of
mind, no principles of honour, no resolution, no ability, no industry,
no learning, no experience, are in the least degree necessary. To defend
a post of importance against a powerful enemy, requires an Elliot; a
drunken invalid is qualified to hoist a white flag, or to deliver up the
keys of the fortress on his knees.


No man knows, when he cuts off the incitements to a virtuous ambition,
and the just rewards of public service, what infinite mischief he may do
his country, through all generations. Such saving to the public may
prove the worst mode of robbing it. The crown, which has in its hands
the trust of the daily pay for national service, ought to have in its
hands also the means for the repose of public labour, and the fixed
settlement of acknowledged merit. There is a time when the
weather-beaten vessels of the state ought to come into harbour. They
must at length have a retreat from the malice of rivals, from the
perfidy of political friends, and the inconstancy of the people. Many of
the persons, who in all times have filled the great offices of state,
have been younger brothers, who had originally little, if any, fortune.
These offices do not furnish the means of amassing wealth. There ought
to be some power in the crown of granting pensions out of the reach of
its own caprices. An entail of dependence is a bad reward of merit.


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.


Look, gentlemen, to the WHOLE TENOUR of your member's conduct. Try
whether his ambition or his avarice have jostled him out of the straight
line of duty; or whether that grand foe of the offices of active life,
that master vice in men of business, a degenerate and inglorious
sloth--has made him flag and languish in his course. This is the object
of our inquiry. If our member's conduct can bear this touch, mark it for
sterling. He may have fallen into errors; he must have faults; but our
error is greater, and our fault is radically ruinous to ourselves, if we
do not bear, if we do not even applaud, the whole compound and mixed
mass of such a character. Not to act thus is folly; I had almost said it
is impiety. He censures God, who quarrels with the imperfections of man.

Gentlemen, we must not be peevish with those who serve the people. For
none will serve us whilst there is a court to serve but those who are of
a nice and jealous honour. They who think everything, in comparison of
that honour, to be dust and ashes, will not bear to have it soiled and
impaired by those for whose sake they make a thousand sacrifices to
preserve it immaculate and whole. We shall either drive such men from
the public stage, or we shall send them to the court for protection;
where, if they must sacrifice their reputation, they will at least
secure their interest. Depend upon it, that the lovers of freedom will
be free. None will violate their conscience to please us, in order
afterwards to discharge that conscience, which they have violated, by
doing us faithful and affectionate service. If we degrade and deprave
their minds by servility, it will be absurd to expect, that they who are
creeping and abject towards us, will ever be bold and incorruptible
assertors of our freedom, against the most seducing and the most
formidable of all powers. No! human nature is not so formed; nor shall
we improve the faculties or better the morals of public men, by our
possession of the most infallible receipt in the world for making cheats
and hypocrites.

Let me say with plainness, I who am no longer in a public character,
that if by a fair, by an indulgent, by a gentlemanly behaviour to our
representatives, we do not give confidence to their minds, and a liberal
scope to their understandings; if we do not permit our members to act
upon a VERY enlarged view of things; we shall at length infallibly
degrade our national representation into a confused and scuffling bustle
of local agency. When the popular member is narrowed in his ideas, and
rendered timid in his proceedings, the service of the crown will be the
sole nursery of statesmen. Among the frolics of the court, it may at
length take that of attending to its business. Then the monopoly of
mental power will be added to the power of all other kinds it possesses.
On the side of the people there will be nothing but impotence: for
ignorance is impotence; narrowness of mind is impotence; timidity is
itself impotence, and makes all other qualities that go along with it,
impotent and useless.


When we know, that the opinions of even the greatest multitudes are the
standard of rectitude, I shall think myself obliged to make those
opinions the masters of my conscience. But if it may be doubted whether
Omnipotence itself is competent to alter the essential constitution of
right and wrong, sure I am that such THINGS, as they and I, are
possessed of no such power. No man carries further than I do the policy
of making government pleasing to the people. But the widest range of
this politic complaisance is confined within the limits of justice. I
would not only consult the interest of the people, but I would
cheerfully gratify their humours. We are all a sort of children that
must be soothed and managed. I think I am not austere or formal in my
nature. I would bear, I would even myself play my part in any innocent
buffooneries to divert them. But I never will act the tyrant for their
amusement. If they will mix malice in their sports, I shall never
consent to throw them any living, sentient creature whatsoever--no, not
so much as a kitling, to torment.


The condition of our nature is such, that we buy our blessings at a
price. The Reformation, one of the greatest periods of human
improvement, was a time of trouble and confusion. The vast structure of
superstition and tyranny, which had been for ages in rearing, and which
was combined with the interest of the great and of the many, which was
moulded into the laws, the manners, and civil institutions of nations,
and blended with the frame and policy of states, could not be brought to
the ground without a fearful struggle; nor could it fall without a
violent concussion of itself and all about it. When this great
revolution was attempted in a more regular mode by government, it was
opposed by plots and seditions of the people; when by popular efforts,
it was repressed as a rebellion by the hand of power; and bloody
executions (often bloodily returned) marked the whole of its progress
through all its stages. The affairs of religion, which are no longer
heard of in the tumult of our present contentions, made a principal
ingredient in the wars and politics of that time; the enthusiasm of
religion threw a gloom over the politics; and political interests
poisoned and perverted the spirit of religion upon all sides. The
Protestant religion in that violent struggle, infected, as the Popish
had been before, by worldly interests and worldly passions, became a
persecutor in its turn, sometimes of the new sects, which carried their
own principles further than it was convenient to the original reformers;
and always of the body from whom they parted: and this persecuting
spirit arose, not only from the bitterness of retaliation, but from the
merciless policy of fear.

It was long before the spirit of true piety and true wisdom, involved in
the principles of the Reformation, could be depurated from the dregs and
feculence of the contention with which it was carried through. However,
until this be done, the Reformation is not complete; and those who think
themselves good Protestants, from their animosity to others, are in that
respect no Protestants at all.


DESCRIPTIONS, dignified by the name of reason of state, and security for
constitutions and commonwealths, is nothing better at bottom, than the
miserable invention of an ungenerous ambition, which would fain hold the
sacred trust of power, without any of the virtues or any of the energies
that give a title to it: a receipt of policy, made up of a detestable
compound of malice, cowardice, and sloth. They would govern men against
their will; but in that government they would be discharged from the
exercise of vigilance, providence, and fortitude; and therefore, that
they may sleep on their watch, they consent to take some one division of
the society into partnership of the tyranny over the rest. But let
government, in what form it may be, comprehend the whole in its justice,
and restrain the suspicious by its vigilance; let it keep watch and
ward; let it discover by its sagacity, and punish by its firmness, all
delinquency against its power, whenever delinquency exists in the overt
acts; and then it will be as safe as ever God and nature intended it
should be. Crimes are the acts of individuals, and not of denominations;
and therefore arbitrarily to class men under general descriptions, in
order to proscribe and punish them in the lump for a presumed
delinquency, of which perhaps but a part, perhaps none at all, are
guilty, is indeed a compendious method, and saves a world of trouble
about proof; but such a method, instead of being law, is an act of
unnatural rebellion against the legal dominion of reason and justice;
and this vice, in any constitution that entertains it, at one time or
other will certainly bring on its ruin.


I must fairly tell you, that so far as my principles are concerned,
(principles that I hope will only depart with my last breath), I have no
idea of a liberty unconnected with honesty and justice. Nor do I believe
that any good constitutions of government, or of freedom, can find it
necessary for their security to doom any part of the people to a
permanent slavery. Such a constitution of freedom, if such can be, is in
effect no more than another name for the tyranny of the strongest
faction; and factions in republics have been, and are, full as capable
as monarchs of the most cruel oppression and injustice. It is but too
true, that the love, and even the very idea of genuine liberty is
extremely rare. It is but too true, that there are many whose whole
scheme of freedom is made up of pride, perverseness, and insolence. They
feel themselves in a state of thraldom, they imagine that their souls
are cooped and cabined in, unless they have some man, or some body of
men, dependent on their mercy. The desire of having some one below them
descends to those who are the very lowest of all,--and a Protestant
cobbler, debased by his poverty, but exalted by his share of the ruling
church, feels a pride in knowing it is by his generosity alone that the
peer, whose footman's instep he measures, is able to keep his chaplain
from a gaol.


They enter the capital of America only to abandon it; and these
assertors and representatives of the dignity of England, at the tail of
a flying army, let fly their Parthian shafts of memorials and
remonstrances at random behind them. Their promises and their offers,
their flatteries and their menaces, were all despised; and we were saved
from the disgrace of their formal reception, only because the congress
scorned to receive them; whilst the state-house of independent
Philadelphia opened her doors to the public entry of the ambassador of
France. From war and blood we went to submission; and from submission
plunged back again to war and blood; to desolate and be desolated,
without measure, hope, or end. I am a Royalist, I blushed for this
degradation of the crown. I am a Whig, I blushed for the dishonour of
parliament. I am a true Englishman, I felt to the quick for the disgrace
of England. I am a man, I felt for the melancholy reverse of human
affairs in the fall of the first power in the world.


I cannot name this gentleman without remarking that his labours and
writings have done much to open the eyes and hearts of mankind. He has
visited all Europe,--not to survey the sumptuousness of palaces, or the
stateliness of temples; not to make accurate measurements of the remains
of ancient grandeur, nor to form a scale of the curiosity of modern art;
not to collect medals, or collate manuscripts:--but to dive into the
depths of dungeons; to plunge into the infection of hospitals; to survey
the mansions of sorrow and pain; to take the gauge and dimensions of
misery, depression, and contempt; to remember the forgotten, to attend
to the neglected, to visit the forsaken, and to compare and collate the
distresses of all men in all countries. His plan is original; and is as
full of genius as it is of humanity. It was a voyage of discovery; a
circumnavigation of charity. Already the benefit of his labour is felt
more or less in every country; I hope he will anticipate his final
reward by seeing all its effects fully realized in his own. He will
receive, not by detail, but in gross, the reward of those who visit the
prisoner; and he has so forestalled and monopolized this branch of
charity, that there will be, I trust, little room to merit by such acts
of benevolence hereafter.


It is certainly not pleasing to be put out of the public service. But I
wish to be a member of parliament, to have my share of doing good and
resisting evil. It would therefore be absurd to renounce my objects in
order to obtain my seat. I deceive myself indeed most grossly if I had
not much rather pass the remainder of my life hidden in the recesses of
the deepest obscurity, feeding my mind even with the visions and
imaginations of such things, than to be placed on the most splendid
throne of the universe, tantalized with a denial of the practice of all
which can make the greatest situation any other than the greatest curse.
Gentlemen, I have had my day. I can never sufficiently express my
gratitude to you for having set me in a place wherein I could lend the
slightest help to great and laudable designs. If I have had my share in
any measure giving quiet to private property, and private conscience; if
by my vote I have aided in securing to families the best possession,
peace; if I have joined in reconciling kings to their subjects, and
subjects to their prince; if I have assisted to loosen the foreign
holdings of the citizen, and taught him to look for his protection to
the laws of his country, and for his comfort to the goodwill of his
countrymen--if I have thus taken my part with the best of men in the
best of their actions, I can shut the book;--I might wish to read a page
or two more--but this is enough for my measure,--I have not lived in


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 all the cables and snap the chains
which tie us to an unfaithful shore, and enter the friendly harbour that
shoots far out into the main its moles and jettees to receive us.--"War
with the world, and peace with our constituents." Be this our motto, and
our principle. Then, indeed, we shall be truly great. Respecting
ourselves, we shall be respected by the world. At present all is
troubled, and cloudy, and distracted, and full of anger and turbulence,
both abroad and at home; but the air may be cleared by this storm, and
light and fertility may follow it. Let us give a faithful pledge to the
people, that we honour indeed the crown, but that we BELONG to them;
that we are their auxiliaries, and not their task-masters,--the
fellow-labourers in the same vineyard,--not lording over their rights,
but helpers of their joy: that to tax them is a grievance to ourselves;
but to cut off from our enjoyments to forward theirs, is the highest
gratification we are capable of receiving.


As things now stand, every man, in proportion to his consequence at
court, tends to add to the expense 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 common interest with the
minister in public 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 fabric 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.


He felt some concern that this strange thing, called a Revolution in
France, should be compared with the glorious event commonly called the
Revolution in England; and the conduct of the soldiery, on that
occasion, compared with the behaviour of some of the troops of France in
the present instance. At that period the prince of Orange, a prince of
the blood-royal in England, was called in by the flower of the English
aristocracy to defend its ancient constitution, and not to level all
distinctions. To this prince, so invited, the aristocratic leaders who
commanded the troops went over with their several corps, in bodies, to
the deliverer of their country. Aristocratic leaders brought up the
corps of citizens who newly enlisted in this cause. Military obedience
changed its object; but military discipline was not for a moment
interrupted in its principle. The troops were ready for war, but
indisposed to mutiny. But as the conduct of the English armies was
different, so was that of the whole English nation at that time. In
truth, the circumstances of our revolution (as it is called) and that of
France, are just the reverse of each other in almost every particular,
and in the whole spirit of the transaction. With us it was the case of a
legal monarch attempting arbitrary power--in France it is the case of an
arbitrary monarch, beginning, 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 laying 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, convulsive
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 era 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 preserved a firmer countenance, nor a more vigorous arm,
to all her enemies, and to all her rivals. Europe under her respired and
revived. Everywhere 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


He knew too well, and he felt as much as any man, how difficult it was
to accommodate a standing army to a free constitution, or to any
constitution. An armed, disciplined, body is, in its essence, dangerous
to liberty; undisciplined, it is ruinous to society. Its component parts
are, in the latter case, neither good citizens nor good soldiers. What
have they thought of in France, under such a difficulty as almost puts
the human faculties to a stand? They have put their army under such a
variety of principles of duty, that it is more likely to breed
litigants, pettifoggers, and mutineers, than soldiers. They have set up,
to balance their crown army, another army, deriving under another
authority, called a municipal army--a balance of armies, not of orders.
These latter they have destroyed with every mark of insult and
oppression. States may, and they will best, exist with a partition of
civil powers. Armies cannot exist under a divided command. This state of
things he thought, in effect, a state of war, or, at best, but a truce
instead of peace, in the country.


In the last century, Louis the Fourteenth had established a greater and
better disciplined military force than ever had been before seen in
Europe, and with it a perfect despotism. Though that despotism was
proudly arrayed in manners, gallantry, splendour, magnificence, and even
covered over with the imposing robes of science, literature, and arts,
it was, in government, nothing better than a painted and gilded tyranny;
in religion, a hard, stern intolerance, the fit companion and auxiliary
to the despotic tyranny which prevailed in its government. The same
character of despotism insinuated itself into every court of Europe, the
same spirit of disproportioned magnificence--the same love of standing
armies, above the ability of the people. In particular, our then
sovereigns, King Charles and King James, fell in love with the
government of their neighbour, so flattering to the pride of kings. A
similarity of sentiments brought on connections equally dangerous to the
interests and liberties of their country. It were well that the
infection had gone no farther than the throne. The admiration of a
government flourishing and successful, unchecked in its operations, and
seeming therefore to compass its objects more speedily and effectually,
gained something upon all ranks of people. The good patriots of that
day, however, struggled against it. They sought nothing more anxiously
than to break off all communication with France, and to be get a total
alienation from its councils and its example; which, by the animosity
prevalent between the abettors of their religious system and the
assertors of ours, was in some degree effected.


In the last age we were in danger of being entangled by the example of
France in the net of a relentless despotism. It is not necessary to say
anything upon that example. It exists no longer. Our present danger from
the example of a people, whose character knows no medium, is, with
regard to government, a danger from anarchy; a danger of being led
through an admiration of successful fraud and violence, to an imitation
of the excesses of an irrational, unprincipled, proscribing,
confiscating, plundering, ferocious, bloody, and tyrannical democracy.
On the side of religion, the danger of their example is no longer from
intolerance, but from atheism; a foul, unnatural vice, foe to all the
dignity and consolation of mankind; which seems in France, for a long
time, to have been embodied into a faction, accredited, and almost


When an act of great and signal humanity was to be done, and done with
all the weight and authority that belonged to it, the world would cast
its eyes upon none but him. I hope that few things which have a tendency
to bless or to adorn life have wholly escaped my observation in my
passage through it. I have sought the acquaintance of that gentleman,
and have seen him in all situations. He is a true genius; with an
understanding vigorous, and acute, and refined, and distinguishing even
to excess; and illuminated with a most unbounded, peculiar, and original
cast of imagination. With these he possesses many external and
instrumental advantages; and he makes use of them all. His fortune is
among the largest; a fortune which, wholly unincumbered, as it is, with
one single charge from luxury, vanity, or excess, sinks under the
benevolence of its dispenser. This private benevolence, expanding itself
into patriotism, renders his whole being the estate of the public, in
which he has not reserved a peculium for himself of profit, diversion,
or relaxation. During the session, the first in, and the last out of the
House of Commons; he passes from the senate to the camp; and, seldom
seeing the seat of his ancestors, he is always in the senate to serve
his country, or in the field to defend it.


Those, who would commit the reformation of India to the destroyers of
it, are the enemies to that reformation. They would make a distinction
between directors and proprietors, which, in the present state of
things, does not, cannot exist. But a right honourable gentleman says,
he would keep the present government of India in the court of directors;
and would, to curb them, provide salutary regulations;--wonderful! That
is, he would appoint the old offenders to correct the old offences; and
he would render the vicious and the foolish wise and virtuous, by
salutary regulations. He would appoint the wolf as guardian of the
sheep; but he has invented a curious muzzle, by which this protecting
wolf shall not be able to open his jaws above an inch or two at the
utmost. Thus his work is finished. But I tell the right honourable
gentleman, that controlled depravity is not innocence; and that it is
not the labour of delinquency in chains that will correct abuses. Will
these gentlemen of the direction animadvert on the partners of their own
guilt? Never did a serious plan of amending any old tyrannical
establishment propose the authors and abettors of the abuses as the
reformers of them.


If I am to speak my private sentiments, I think that in a thousand cases
for one it would be far less mischievous to the public, and full as
little dishonourable to themselves, to be polluted with direct bribery,
than thus to become a standing auxiliary to the oppression, usury, and
peculation, of multitudes, in order to obtain a corrupt support to their
power. It is by bribing, not so often by being bribed, that wicked
politicians bring ruin on mankind. Avarice is a rival to the pursuits of
many. It finds a multitude of checks, and many opposers, in every walk
of life. But the objects of ambition are for the few; and every person
who aims at indirect profit, and therefore wants other protection, than
innocence and law, instead of its rival becomes its instrument. There is
a natural allegiance and fealty do you to this domineering, paramount
evil, from all the vassal vices, which acknowledge its superiority, and
readily militate under its banners; and it is under that discipline
alone that avarice is able to spread to any considerable extent, or to
render itself a general, public mischief.


When at length Hyder Ali found that he had to do with men who either
would sign no convention, or whom no treaty and no signature could bind,
and who were the determined enemies of human intercourse itself, he
decreed to make the country possessed by these incorrigible and
predestinated criminals a memorable example to mankind. He resolved, in
the gloomy recesses of a mind capacious of such things, to leave the
whole Carnatic an everlasting monument of vengeance, and to put
perpetual desolation as a barrier between him and those, against whom
the faith which holds the moral elements of the world together, was no
protection. He became at length so confident of his force, so collected
in his might, that he made no secret whatsoever of his dreadful
resolution. Having terminated his disputes with every enemy, and every
rival, who buried their mutual animosities in their common detestation
against the creditors of the nabob of Arcot, he drew from every quarter
whatever a savage ferocity could add to his new rudiments in the arts of
destruction; and compounding all the materials of fury, havoc, and
desolation, into one black cloud, he hung for a while on the declivities
of the mountains. Whilst the authors of all these evils were idly and
stupidly gazing on this menacing meteor, which blackened all their
horizon, it suddenly burst, and poured down the whole of its contents
upon the plains of the Carnatic. Then ensued a scene of woe, the like of
which no eye had seen, no heart conceived, and which no tongue can
adequately tell. All the horrors of war before known or heard of, were
mercy to that new havoc. A storm of universal fire blasted every field,
consumed every house, destroyed every temple. The miserable inhabitants
flying from their flaming villages, in part were slaughtered; others,
without regard to sex, to age, to the respect of rank, or sacredness of
function, fathers torn from children, husbands from wives, enveloped in
a whirlwind of cavalry, and amidst the goading spears of drivers, and
the trampling of pursuing horses, were swept into captivity, in an
unknown and hostile land. Those who were able to evade the tempest fled
to the walled cities. But escaping from fire, sword, and exile, they
fell into the jaws of famine.

The alms of the settlement in this dreadful exigency, were certainly
liberal; and all was done by charity that private charity could do; but
it was a people in beggary; it was a nation which stretched out its
hands for food. For months together these creatures of sufferance, whose
very excess and luxury in their most plenteous days had fallen short of
the allowance of our austerest fasts, silent, patient, resigned, without
sedition or disturbance, almost without complaint, perished by an
hundred a day in the streets of Madras; every day seventy at least laid
their bodies in the streets, or on the glacis of Tanjore, and expired of
famine in the granary of India. I was going to awake your justice
towards this unhappy part of our fellow-citizens, by bringing before you
some of the circumstances of this plague of hunger. Of all the
calamities which beset and waylay the life of man, this comes the
nearest to our heart, and is that wherein the proudest of us all feels
himself to be nothing more than he is: but I find myself unable to
manage it with decorum: these details are of a species of horror so
nauseous and disgusting; they are so degrading to the sufferers and to
the hearers; they are so humiliating to human nature itself, that, on
better thoughts, I think it more advisable to throw a pall over this
hideous object, and to leave it to your general conceptions.


That the house must perceive, from his coming forward to mark an
expression or two of his best friend, how anxious he was to keep the
distemper of France from the least countenance in England, where he was
sure some wicked persons had shown a strong disposition to recommend an
imitation of the French spirit of reform. He was so strongly opposed to
any the least tendency towards the MEANS of introducing a democracy like
theirs, as well as to the END itself, that much as it would afflict him,
if such a thing could be attempted, and that any friend of his could
concur in such measures (he was far, very far, from believing they
could), he would abandon his best friends, and join with his worst
enemies to oppose either the means or the end; and to resist all violent
exertions of the spirit of innovation, so distant from all principles of
true and safe reformation; a spirit well calculated to overturn states,
but perfectly unfit to amend them.

That he was no enemy to reformation. Almost every business in which he
was much concerned, from the first day he sat in that house to that
hour, was a business of reformation; and when he had not been employed
in correcting, he had been employed in resisting, abuses. Some traces of
this spirit in him now stand on their statute-book. In his opinion,
anything which unnecessarily tore to pieces the contexture of the state,
not only prevented all real reformation, but introduced evils which
would call, but perhaps call in vain, for new reformation.

That he thought the French nation very unwise. What they valued
themselves on, was a disgrace to them. They had gloried (and some people
in England had thought fit to take share in that glory) in making a
revolution; as if revolutions were good things in themselves. All the
horrors, and all the crimes of the anarchy which led to their
revolution, which attend its progress, and which may virtually attend it
in its establishment, pass for nothing with the lovers of revolutions.
The French have made their way, through the destruction of their
country, to a bad constitution, when they were absolutely in possession
of a good one. They were in possession of it the day the states met in
separate orders. Their business, had they been either virtuous or wise,
or had they been left to their own judgment, was to secure the stability
and independence of the states, according to those orders, under the
monarch on the throne. It was then their duty to redress grievances.

Instead of redressing grievances, and improving the fabric of their
state, to which they were called by their monarch, and sent by their
country, they were made to take a very different course. They first
destroyed all the balances and counterpoises which serve to fix the
state, and to give it a steady direction, and which furnish sure
correctives to any violent spirit which may prevail in any of the
orders. These balances existed in their oldest constitution; and in the
constitution of this country; and in the constitution of all the
countries in Europe. These they rashly destroyed, and then they melted
down the whole into one incongruous, ill-connected mass.

When they had done this, they instantly, and with the most atrocious
perfidy and breach of all faith among men, laid the axe to the root of
all property, and consequently of all national prosperity, by the
principles they established, and the example they set, in confiscating
all the possessions of the church. They made and recorded a sort of
INSTITUTE and DIGEST of anarchy, called the rights of man, in such a
pedantic abuse of elementary principles as would have disgraced boys at
school; but this declaration of rights was worse than trifling and
pedantic in them, as by their name and authority they systematically
destroyed every hold of authority by opinion, religious or civil, on the
minds of the people. By this mad declaration they subverted the state,
and brought on such calamities as no country, without a long war, has
ever been known to suffer; and which may in the end produce such a war,
and perhaps many such.

With them the question was not between despotism and liberty. The
sacrifice they made of the peace and power of their country was not made
on the altar of freedom. Freedom, and a better security for freedom than
that they have taken, they might have had without any sacrifice at all.
They brought themselves into all the calamities they suffer, not that
through them they might obtain a British constitution; they plunged
themselves headlong into those calamities to prevent themselves from
settling into that constitution, or into anything resembling it.


Confidence might become a vice, and jealousy a virtue, according to
circumstances. That confidence, of all public virtues, was the most
dangerous, and jealousy in a house of commons, of all public vices, the
most tolerable; especially where the number and the charge of standing
armies in time of peace was the question.


Strange as this scheme of conduct in ministry is, and inconsistent with
all just policy, it is still true to itself, and faithful to its own
perverted order. Those who are bountiful to crimes, will be rigid to
merit, and penurious to service. Their penury is even held out as a
blind and cover to their prodigality. The economy of injustice is, to
furnish resources for the fund of corruption. Then they pay off their
protection to great crimes and great criminals by being inexorable to
the paltry frailties of little men; and these modern flagellants are
sure, with a rigid fidelity, to whip their own enormities on the
vicarious back of every small offender.


The benefits of heaven to any community ought never to be connected
with political arrangements, or made to depend on the personal
conduct of princes; in which the mistake, or error, or neglect, or
distress, or passion of a moment on either side, may bring famine on
millions, and ruin an innocent nation perhaps for ages. The means of
the subsistence of mankind should be as immutable as the laws of
nature, let power and dominion take what course they may.


It is difficult for the most wise and upright government to correct the
abuses of remote, delegated power, productive of unmeasured wealth, and
protected by the boldness and strength of the same ill-got riches. These
abuses, full of their own wild native vigour, will grow and flourish
under mere neglect. But where the supreme authority, not content with
winking at the rapacity of its inferior instruments, is so shameless and
corrupt as openly to give bounties and premiums for disobedience to its
laws, when it will not trust to the activity of avarice in the pursuit
of its own gains, when it secures public robbery by all the careful
jealousy and attention with which it ought to protect property from such
violence, the commonwealth then is become totally perverted from its
purposes; neither God nor man will long endure it; nor will it long
endure itself. In that case there is an unnatural infection, a
pestilential taint fermenting in the constitution of society, which
fever and convulsions of some kind or other must throw off; or in which
the vital powers, worsted in an unequal struggle, are pushed back upon
themselves, and, by a reversal of their whole functions, fester to
gangrene, to death; and instead of what was but just now the delight and
boast of the creation, there will be cast out in the face of the sun a
bloated, putrid, noisome carcass, full of stench, and poison, an
offence, a horror, a lesson to the world.


It is the undoubted prerogative of the crown to dissolve parliament; but
we beg leave to lay before his majesty, that it is, of all the trusts
vested in his majesty, the most critical and delicate, and that in which
this house has the most reason to require, not only the good faith, but
the favour of the crown. His commons are not always upon a par with his
ministers in an application to popular judgment: it is not in the power
of the members of this house to go to their election at the moment the
most favourable to them. It is in the power of the crown to choose a
time for their dissolution whilst great and arduous matters of state and
legislation are depending, which may be easily misunderstood, and which
cannot be fully explained before that misunderstanding may prove fatal
to the honour that belongs, and to the consideration that is due, to
members of parliament. With his majesty is the gift of all the rewards,
the honours, distinctions, favour, and graces of the state; with his
majesty is the mitigation of all the rigours of the law: and we rejoice
to see the crown possessed of trusts calculated to obtain goodwill, and
charged with duties which are popular and pleasing. Our trusts are of a
different kind. Our duties are harsh and invidious in their nature; and
justice and safety is all we can expect in the exercise of them. We are
to offer salutary, which is not always pleasing, counsel; we are to
inquire and to accuse: and the objects of our inquiry and charge will be
for the most part persons of wealth, power, and extensive connections:
we are to make rigid laws for the preservation of revenue, which of
necessity more or less confine some action, or restrain some function,
which before was free: what is the most critical and invidious of all,
the whole body of the public impositions originate from us, and the hand
of the House of Commons is seen and felt in every burthen that presses
on the people. Whilst, ultimately, we are serving them, and in the first
instance whilst we are serving his majesty, it will be hard, indeed, if
we should see a House of Commons the victim of its zeal and fidelity,
sacrificed by his ministers to those very popular discontents, which
shall be excited by our dutiful endeavours for the security and
greatness of his throne. No other consequence can result from such an
example, but that, in future, the House of Commons, consulting its
safety at the expense of its duties, and suffering the whole energy of
the state to be relaxed, will shrink from every service, which, however
necessary, is of a great and arduous nature; or that, willing to provide
for the public necessities, and, at the same time, to secure the means
of performing that task, they will exchange independence for protection,
and will court a subservient existence through the favour of those
ministers of state, or those secret advisers, who ought themselves to
stand in awe of the commons of this realm.

A House of Commons respected by his ministers is essential to his
majesty's service: it is fit that they should yield to parliament, and
not that parliament should be new modelled until it is fitted to their
purposes. If our authority is only to be held up when we coincide in
opinion with his majesty's advisers, but is to be set at nought the
moment it differs from them, the House of Commons will sink into a mere
appendage of administration; and will lose that independent character
which, inseparably connecting the honour and reputation with the acts of
this house, enables us to afford a real, effective, and substantial
support to his government. It is the deference shown to our opinion when
we dissent from the servants of the crown, which alone can give
authority to the proceedings of this house when it concurs with their

That authority once lost, the credit of his majesty's crown will be
impaired in the eyes of all nations. Foreign powers, who may yet wish to
revive a friendly intercourse with this nation, will look in vain for
that hold which gave a connection with Great Britain the preference to
an alliance with any other state. A House of Commons, of which ministers
were known to stand in awe, where everything was necessarily discussed,
on principles fit to be openly and publicly avowed, and which could not
be retracted or varied without danger, furnished a ground of confidence
in the public faith, which the engagement of no state dependent on the
fluctuation of personal favour, and private advice, can ever pretend to.
If faith with the House of Commons, the grand security for the national
faith itself, can be broken with impunity, a wound is given to the
political importance of Great Britain, which will not easily be healed.


His confidence in Mr. Fox was such, and so ample, as to be almost
implicit. That he was not ashamed to avow that degree of docility. That
when the choice is well made, it strengthens instead of oppressing our
intellect. That he who calls in the aid of an equal understanding
doubles his own. He who profits of a superior understanding raises his
powers to a level with the height of the superior understanding he
unites with. He had found the benefit of such a junction, and would not
lightly depart from it. He wished almost, on all occasions, that his
sentiments were understood to be conveyed in Mr. Fox's words; and he
wished, as amongst the greatest benefits he could wish the country, an
eminent share of power to that right honourable gentleman; because he
knew, that, to his great and masterly understanding, he had joined the
greatest possible degree of that natural moderation, which is the best
corrective of power; that he was of the most artless, candid, open, and
benevolent disposition; disinterested in the extreme; of a temper mild
and placable even to a fault; without one drop of gall in his whole


The commons have the deepest interest in the purity and integrity of
the peerage. The peers dispose of all the property in the kingdom, in
the last resort; and they dispose of it on their honour and not on
their oaths, as all the members of every other tribunal in the
kingdom must do; though in them the proceeding is not conclusive. We
have, therefore, a right to demand that no application shall be made
to peers of such a nature as may give room to call in question, much
less to attaint, our sole security for all that we possess. This
corrupt proceeding appeared to the House of Commons, who are the
natural guardians of the purity of parliament, and of the purity of
every branch of judicature, a most reprehensible and dangerous
practice, tending to shake the very foundation of the authority of
the House of Peers: and they branded it as such by their resolution.


The French had shown themselves the ablest architects of ruin that had
hitherto existed in the world. In that very short space of time they had
completely pulled down to the ground their monarchy, their church, their
nobility, their law, their revenue, their army, their navy, their
commerce, their arts, and their manufactures. They had done their
business for us as rivals, in a way in which twenty Ramilies or
Blenheims could never have done it. Were we absolute conquerors, and
France to lie prostrate at our feet, we should be ashamed to send a
commission to settle their affairs which could impose so hard a law upon
the French, and so destructive of all their consequence as a nation, as
that they had imposed on themselves.


The Carnatic is a country not much inferior in extent to England. Figure
to yourself, Mr. Speaker, the land in whose representative chair you
sit; figure to yourself the form and fashion of your sweet and cheerful
country from Thames to Trent, north and south, and from the Irish to the
German sea east and west, emptied and embowelled (may God avert the omen
of our crimes!) by so accomplished a desolation. Extend your imagination
a little further, and then suppose your ministers taking a survey of
this scene of waste and desolation; what would be your thoughts if you
should be informed, that they were computing how much had been the
amount of the excises, how much the customs, how much the land and
malt-tax, in order that they should charge (take it in the most
favourable light) for public service, upon the relics of the satiated
vengeance of relentless enemies, the whole of what England had yielded
in the most exuberant seasons of peace and abundance? What would you
call it? To call it tyranny sublimed into madness, would be too faint an
image; yet this very madness is the principle upon which the ministers
at your right hand have proceeded in their estimate of the revenues of
the Carnatic, when they were providing, not supply for the
establishments of its protection, but, rewards for the authors of its

Every day you are fatigued and disgusted with this cant, "the Carnatic
is a country that will soon recover, and become instantly as prosperous
as ever." They think they are talking to innocents, who will believe
that, by sowing of dragons' teeth, men may come up ready grown and ready
armed. They who will give themselves the trouble of considering (for it
requires no great reach of thought, no very profound knowledge) the
manner in which mankind are increased, and countries cultivated, will
regard all this raving as it ought to be regarded. In order that the
people, after a long period of vexation and plunder, may be in a
condition to maintain government, government must begin by maintaining
them. Here the road to economy lies not through receipt, but through
expense; and in that country nature has given no short cut to your
object. Men must propagate like other animals, by the mouth. Never did
oppression light the nuptial torch; never did extortion and usury spread
out the genial bed. Does any one of you think that England, so wasted,
would, under such a nursing attendance, so rapidly and cheaply recover?
But he is meanly acquainted with either England or India, who does not
know that England would a thousand times sooner resume population,
fertility, and what ought to be the ultimate secretion from
both--revenue, than such a country as the Carnatic. The Carnatic is not
by the bounty of nature a fertile soil. The general size of its cattle
is proof enough that it is much otherwise. It is some days since I
moved, that a curious and interesting map, kept in the India house,
should be laid before you. The India House is not yet in readiness to
send it; I have therefore brought down my own copy, and there it lies
for the use of any gentleman who may think such a matter worthy of his
attention. It is indeed a noble map, and of noble things; but it is
decisive against the golden dreams and sanguine speculations of avarice
run mad. In addition to what you know must be the case in every part of
the world (the necessity of a previous provision of habitation, seed,
stock, capital), that map will show you, that the uses of the influences
of Heaven itself are in that country a work of art. The Carnatic is
refreshed by few or no living brooks or running streams, and it has rain
only at a season; but its product of rice exacts the use of water
subject to perpetual command. This is the national bank of the Carnatic,
on which it must have a perpetual credit, or it perishes irretrievably.
For that reason, in the happier times of India, a number, almost
incredible, of reservoirs have been made in chosen places throughout the
whole country; they are formed for the greater part of mounds of earth
and stones, with sluices of solid masonry; the whole constructed with
admirable skill and labour, and maintained at a mighty charge. In the
territory contained in that map alone, I have been at the trouble of
reckoning the reservoirs, and they amount to upwards of eleven hundred,
from the extent of two or three acres to five miles in circuit. From
these reservoirs currents are occasionally drawn over the fields, and
these watercourses again call for a considerable expense to keep them
properly scoured and duly leveled. Taking the district in that map as a
measure, there cannot be in the Carnatic and Tanjore fewer than ten
thousand of these reservoirs of the larger and middling dimensions, to
say nothing of those for domestic services, and the uses of religious
purification. These are not the enterprises of your power, nor in a
style of magnificence suited to the taste of your minister. These are
the monuments of real kings, who were the fathers of their people;
testators to a posterity which they embraced as their own. These were
the grand sepulchres built by ambition; but by the ambition of an
insatiable benevolence, which, not contented with reigning in the
dispensation of happiness during the contracted term of human life, had
strained, with all the reachings and graspings of a vivacious mind, to
extend the dominion of their bounty beyond the limits of nature, and to
perpetuate themselves through generations of generations, the guardians,
the protectors, the nourishers of mankind.


I love a manly, moral, regulated liberty as well as any gentleman of
that society, be he who he will: and perhaps I have given as good proofs
of my attachment to that cause in the whole course of my public conduct.
I think I envy liberty as little as they do, to any other nation. But I
cannot stand forward, and give praise or blame to anything which relates
to human actions, and human concerns, on a simple view of the object, as
it stands stripped of every relation, in all the nakedness and solitude
of metaphysical abstraction. Circumstances (which with some gentlemen
pass for nothing) give in reality to every political principle its
distinguishing colour and discriminating effect. The circumstances are
what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to
mankind. Abstractedly speaking, government, as well as liberty, is good;
yet could I, in common sense, ten years ago, have felicitated France on
her enjoyment of a government (for she then had a government) without
inquiry what the nature of that government was, or how it was
administered? Can I now congratulate the same nation upon its freedom?
Is it because liberty in the abstract may be classed amongst the
blessings of mankind that I am seriously to felicitate a madman, who has
escaped from the protecting restraint and wholesome darkness of his
cell, on his restoration to the enjoyment of light and liberty? Am I to
congratulate a highwayman and murderer, who has broken prison, upon the
recovery of his natural rights? This would be to act over again the
scene of the criminals condemned to the galleys, and their heroic
deliverer, the metaphysic knight of the sorrowful countenance. When I
see the spirit of liberty in action, I see a strong principle at work;
and this, for a while, is all I can possibly know of it. The wild GAS,
the fixed air, is plainly broke loose: but we ought to suspend our
judgment until the first effervescence is a little subsided, till the
liquor is cleared, and until we see something deeper than the agitation
of a troubled and frothy surface. I must be tolerably sure, before I
venture publicly to congratulate men upon a blessing, that they have
really received one. Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver;
and adulation is not of more service to the people than to kings. I
should therefore suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of
France, until I was informed how it had been combined with government;
with public force; with the discipline and obedience of armies; with the
collection of an effective and well-distributed revenue; with morality
and religion; with solidity and property; with peace and order; with
civil and social manners. All these (in their way) are good things too;
and, without them, liberty is not a benefit whilst it lasts, and is not
likely to continue long. The effect of liberty to individuals, is, that
they may do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them
to do before we risk congratulations, which may be soon turned into
complaints. Prudence would dictate this in the case of separate,
insulated, private men; but liberty, when men act in bodies, is POWER.
Considerate people, before they declare themselves, will observe the use
which is made of POWER; and particularly of so trying a thing as NEW
power in NEW persons, of whose principles, tempers, and dispositions,
they have little or no experience, and in situations where those who
appear the most stirring in the scene may possibly not be the real


Supposing, however, that something like moderation were visible in this
political sermon; yet politics and the pulpit are terms that have little
agreement. No sound ought to be heard in the church but the healing
voice of Christian charity. The cause of civil liberty and civil
government gains as little as that of religion by this confusion of
duties. Those who quit their proper character to assume what does not
belong to them, are, for the greater part, ignorant both of the
character they leave, and of the character they assume. Wholly
unacquainted with the world in which they are so fond of meddling, and
inexperienced in all its affairs, on which they pronounce with so much
confidence, they have nothing of politics but the passions they excite.
Surely the church is a place where one day's truce ought to be allowed
to the dissensions and animosities of mankind.


It appears to me as if I were in a great crisis, not of the affairs of
France alone, but of all Europe, perhaps of more than Europe. All
circumstances taken together, the French revolution is the most
astonishing that has hitherto happened in the world. The most wonderful
things are brought about in many instances by means the most absurd and
ridiculous; in the most ridiculous modes; and, apparently, by the most
contemptible instruments. Everything seems out of nature in this strange
chaos of levity and ferocity, and of all sorts of crimes jumbled
together with all sorts of follies. In viewing this monstrous
tragi-comic scene, the most opposite passions necessarily succeed, and
sometimes mix with each other in the mind; alternate contempt and
indignation; alternate laughter and tears; alternate scorn and horror.


I certainly have the honour to belong to more clubs than one in which
the constitution of this kingdom and the principles of the glorious
Revolution are held in high reverence; and I reckon myself among the
most forward in my zeal for maintaining that constitution and those
principles in their utmost purity and vigour. It is because I do so
that I think it necessary for me that there should be no mistake.
Those who cultivate the memory of our revolution, and those who are
attached to the constitution of this kingdom, will take good care how
they are involved with persons, who, under the pretext of zeal
towards the Revolution and constitution, too frequently wander from
their true principles; and are ready on every occasion to depart from
the firm but cautious and deliberate spirit which produced the one,
and which presides in the other.


According to this spiritual doctor of politics, if his majesty does not
owe his crown to the choice of his people, he is no LAWFUL KING. Now
nothing can be more untrue than that the crown of this kingdom is so
held by his majesty. Therefore, if you follow their rule, the king of
Great Britain, who most certainly does not owe his high office to any
form of popular election, is in no respect better than the rest of the
gang of usurpers, who reign, or rather rob, all over the face of this
our miserable world, without any sort of right or title to the
allegiance of their people. The policy of this general doctrine, so
qualified, is evident enough. The propagators of this political gospel
are in hopes that their abstract principle (their principle that a
popular choice is necessary to the legal existence of the sovereign
magistracy) would be overlooked, whilst the king of Great Britain was
not affected by it. In the mean time the ears of their congregations
would be gradually habituated to it, as if it were a first principle
admitted without dispute. For the present it would only operate as a
theory, pickled in the preserving juices of pulpit eloquence, and laid
by for future use. Condo et compono quae mox depromere possim. By this
policy, whilst our government is soothed with a reservation in its
favour to which it has no claim, the security, which it has in common
with all governments, so far as opinion is security, is taken away.

Thus these politicians proceed, whilst little notice is taken of their
doctrines; but when they come to be examined upon the plain meaning of
their words, and the direct tendency of their doctrines, then
equivocations and slippery construction come into play. When they say
the king owes his crown to the choice of his people, and is, therefore,
the only lawful sovereign in the world, they will perhaps tell us they
mean to say no more than that some of the king's predecessors have been
called to the throne by some sort of choice; and therefore he owes his
crown to the choice of his people. Thus, by a miserable subterfuge, they
hope to render their proposition safe by rendering it nugatory. They are
welcome to the asylum they seek for their offence, since they take
refuge in their folly. For, if you admit this interpretation, how does
their idea of election differ from our idea of inheritance? And how does
the settlement of the crown in the Brunswick line derived from James I.
come to legalize our monarchy, rather than that of any of the
neighbouring countries? At some time or other, to be sure, all the
beginners of dynasties were chosen by those who called them to govern.
There is ground enough for the opinion that all the kingdoms of Europe
were, at a remote period, elective, with more or fewer limitations in
the objects of choice. But whatever kings might have been here or
elsewhere a thousand years ago, or in whatever manner the ruling
dynasties of England or France may have begun, the king of Great Britain
is, at this day, king by a fixed rule of succession, according to the
laws of his country; and whilst the legal conditions of the compact of
sovereignty are performed by him (as they are performed), he holds his
crown in contempt of the choice of the Revolution Society, who have not
a single vote for a king amongst them, either individually or
collectively; though I make no doubt they would soon erect themselves
into an electoral college, if things were ripe to give effect to their
claim. His majesty's heirs and successors, each in his time and order,
will come to the crown with the same contempt of their choice with which
his majesty has succeeded to that he wears.

Whatever may be the success of evasion in explaining away the gross
error of FACT, which supposes that his majesty (though he holds it in
concurrence with the wishes) owes his crown to the choice of his people,
yet nothing can evade their full explicit declaration concerning the
principle of a right in the people to choose; which right is directly
maintained, and tenaciously adhered to. All the oblique insinuations
concerning election bottom in this proposition, and are referable to it.
Lest the foundation of the king's exclusive legal title should pass for
a mere rant of adulatory freedom, the political divine proceeds
dogmatically to assert, that, by the principles of the Revolution, the
people of England have acquired three fundamental rights, all of which,
with him, compose one system, and lie together in one short sentence;
namely, that we have acquired a right,

1. "To choose our own governors."

2. "To cashier them for misconduct."

3. "To frame a government for ourselves."

This new, and hitherto unheard of, bill of rights, though made in the
name of the whole people, belongs to those gentlemen and their faction
only. The body of the people of England have no share in it. They
utterly disclaim it. They will resist the practical assertion of it with
their lives and fortunes. They are bound to do so by the laws of their
country, made at the time of that very Revolution which is appealed to
in favour of the fictitious rights claimed by the society which abuses
its name.


If the noble SEEKERS should find nothing to satisfy their pious fancies
in the old staple of the national church, or in all the rich variety to
be found in the well-assorted warehouses of the dissenting
congregations, Dr. Price advises them to improve upon non-conformity;
and to set up, each of them, a separate meeting-house upon his own
particular principles. It is somewhat remarkable that this reverend
divine should be so earnest for setting up new churches, and so
perfectly indifferent concerning the doctrine which may be taught in
them. His zeal is of a curious character. It is not for the propagation
of his own opinions, but of any opinions. It is not for the diffusion of
truth, but for the spreading of contradiction. Let the noble teachers
but dissent, it is no matter from whom or from what. This great point
once secured, it is taken for granted their religion will be rational
and manly. I doubt whether religion would reap all the benefits which
the calculating divine computes from this "great company of great
preachers." It would certainly be a valuable addition of nondescripts to
the ample collection of known classes, genera and species, which at
present beautify the hortus siccus of dissent. A sermon from a noble
duke, or a noble marquis, or a noble earl, or baron bold, would
certainly increase and diversify the amusements of this town, which
begins to grow satiated with the uniform round of its vapid
dissipations. I should only stipulate that these new Mess-Johns in robes
and coronets should keep some sort of bounds in the democratic and
levelling principles which are expected from their titled pulpits. The
new evangelists will, I dare say, disappoint the hopes that are
conceived of them. They will not become, literally as well as
figuratively, polemic divines, nor be disposed so to drill their
congregations, that they may, as in former blessed times, preach their
doctrines to regiments of dragoons and corps of infantry and artillery.
Such arrangements, however favourable to the cause of compulsory
freedom, civil and religious, may not be equally conducive to the
national tranquillity. These few restrictions I hope are no great
stretches of intolerance, no very violent exertions of despotism.


Dr. Price, in this sermon, condemns very properly the practice of
gross, adulatory addresses to kings. Instead of this fulsome style,
he proposes that his majesty should be told, on occasions of
congratulation, that "he is to consider himself as more properly the
servant than the sovereign of his people." For a compliment, this new
form of address does not seem to be very soothing. Those who are
servants in name, as well as in effect, do not like to be told of
their situation, their duty and their obligations. The slave, in the
old play, tells his master, "Haec commemoratio est quasi exprobatio."
It is not pleasant as compliment; it is not wholesome as instruction.
After all, if the king were to bring himself to echo this new kind of
address, to adopt it in terms, and even to take the appellation of
Servant of the People as his royal style, how either he or we should
be much mended by it, I cannot imagine. I have seen very assuming
letters, signed, Your most obedient, humble servant. The proudest
denomination that ever was endured on earth took a title of still
greater humility than that which is now proposed for sovereigns by
the Apostle of Liberty. Kings and nations were trampled upon by the
foot of one calling himself "the Servant of Servants;" and mandates
for deposing sovereigns were sealed with the signet of "the

I should have considered all this as no more than a sort of flippant,
vain discourse, in which, as in an unsavoury fume, several persons
suffer the spirit of liberty to evaporate, if it were not plainly in
support of the idea, and a part of the scheme, of "cashiering kings for
misconduct." In that light it is worth some observation.

Kings, in one sense, are undoubtedly the servants of the people, because
their power has no other rational end than that of the general
advantage; but it is not true that they are, in the ordinary sense (by
our constitution at least), anything like servants; the essence of whose
situation is to obey the commands of some other, and to be removable at
pleasure. But the king of Great Britain obeys no other person; all other
persons are individually, and collectively too, under him, and owe to
him a legal obedience. The law, which knows neither to flatter nor to
insult, calls this high magistrate, not our servant, as this humble
divine calls him, but "OUR SOVEREIGN LORD THE KING;" and we, on our
parts, have learned to speak only the primitive language of the law, and
not the confused jargon of their Babylonian pulpits.


The policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection; or
rather the happy effect of following nature, which is wisdom without
reflection, and above it. A spirit of innovation is generally the result
of a selfish temper, and confined views. People will not look forward to
posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the
people of England well know that the idea of inheritance furnishes a
sure principle of conservation, and a sure principle of transmission,
without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves
acquisition free; but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages
are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims, are locked fast as
in a sort of family settlement; grasped as in a kind of mortmain for
ever. By a constitutional policy working after the pattern of nature, we
receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges, in the
same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives.
The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of
Providence, are handed down to us, and from us, in the same course and
order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and
symmetry with the order of the world, and with the mode of existence
decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts; wherein, by
the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, moulding together the great
mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is
never old, or middle-aged, or young, but, in a condition of unchangeable
constancy, moves on through the varied tenour of perpetual decay, fall,
renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in
the conduct of the state, in what we improve, we are never wholly new;
in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this
manner and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by
the superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic
analogy. In this choice of inheritance we have given to our frame of
polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of
our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental
laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable, and
cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected
charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars.

Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial
institutions, and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful
instincts to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason,
we have derived several other, and those no small benefits, from
considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting
as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom,
leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful
gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of
habitual native dignity, which prevents that upstart insolence almost
inevitably adhering to and disgracing those who are the first acquirers
of any distinction. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom.
It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and
illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It
has its gallery of portraits; its monumental inscriptions; its records,
evidences, and titles. We procure reverence to our civil institutions on
the principle upon which nature teaches us to revere individual men; on
account of their age, and on account of those from whom they are
descended. All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to
preserve a rational and manly freedom than the course that we have
pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our
breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and
magazines of our rights and privileges.


A state without the means of some change is without the means of its
conservation. Without such means it might even risk the loss of that
part of the constitution which it wished the most religiously to
preserve. The two principles of conservation and correction operated
strongly at the two critical periods of the Restoration and Revolution,
when England found itself without a king. At both those periods the
nation had lost the bond of union in their ancient edifice; they did
not, however, dissolve the whole fabric. On the contrary, in both cases
they regenerated the deficient part of the old constitution through the
parts which were not impaired. They kept these old parts exactly as they
were, that the part recovered might be suited to them. They acted by the
ancient organized states in the shape of their old organization, and not
by the organic moleculae of a disbanded people. At no time, perhaps, did
the sovereign legislature manifest a more tender regard to that
fundamental principle of British constitutional policy than at the time
of the Revolution, when it deviated from the direct line of hereditary
succession. The crown was carried somewhat out of the line in which it
had before moved; but the new line was derived from the same stock. It
was still a line of hereditary descent; still an hereditary descent in
the same blood, though an hereditary descent qualified with
Protestantism. When the legislature altered the direction, but kept the
principle, they showed that they held it inviolable.


Unquestionably there was at the Revolution, in the person of King
William, a small and a temporary deviation from the strict order of a
regular hereditary succession; but it is against all genuine principles
of jurisprudence to draw a principle from a law made in a special case,
and regarding an individual person. Privilegium non transit in exemplum.
If ever there was a time favourable for establishing the principle, that
a king of popular choice was the only legal king, without all doubt it
was at the Revolution. Its not being done at that time is a proof that
the nation was of opinion it ought not to be done at any time. There is
no person so completely ignorant of our history as not to know that the
majority in parliament of both parties were so little disposed to
anything resembling that principle, that at first they were determined
to place the vacant crown, not on the head of the prince of Orange, but
on that of his wife Mary, daughter of King James, the eldest born of the
issue of that king, which they acknowledged as undoubtedly his. It would
be to repeat a very trite story, to recall to your memory all those
circumstances which demonstrated that their accepting King William was
not properly a CHOICE; but to all those who did not wish, in effect, to
recall King James, or to deluge their country in blood, and again to
bring their religion, laws, and liberties into the peril they had just
escaped, it was an act of NECESSITY, in the strictest moral sense in
which necessity can be taken.

So far is it from being true, that we acquired a right by the Revolution
to elect our kings, that if we had possessed it before, the English
nation did at that time most solemnly renounce and abdicate it, for
themselves, and for all their posterity for ever. These gentlemen may
value themselves as much as they please on their Whig principles; but I
never desire to be thought a better Whig than Lord Somers; or to
understand the principles of the Revolution better than those by whom it
was brought about; or to read in the Declaration of Right any mysteries
unknown to those whose penetrating style has engraved in our ordinances,
and in our hearts, the words and spirit of that immortal law.

It is true that, aided with the powers derived from force and
opportunity, the nation was at that time, in some sense, free to take
what course it pleased for filling the throne; but only free to do so
upon the same grounds on which they might have wholly abolished their
monarchy, and every other part of their constitution.

However, they did not think such bold changes within their commission.
It is indeed difficult, perhaps impossible, to give limits to the mere
ABSTRACT competence of the supreme power, such as was exercised by
parliament at that time; but the limits of a MORAL competence,
subjecting, even in powers more indisputably sovereign, occasional will
to permanent reason, and to the steady maxims of faith, justice, and
fixed fundamental policy, are perfectly intelligible, and perfectly
binding upon those who exercise any authority, under any name, or under
any title, in the state. The House of Lords, for instance, is not
morally competent to dissolve the House of Commons; no, nor even to
dissolve itself, nor to abdicate, if it would, its portion in the
legislature of the kingdom. Though a king may abdicate for his own
person, he cannot abdicate for the monarchy. By as strong, or by a
stronger reason, the House of Commons cannot renounce its share of
authority. The engagement and pact of society, which generally goes by
the name of the constitution, forbids such invasion and such surrender.
The constituent parts of a state are obliged to hold their public faith
with each other, and with all those who derive any serious interest
under their engagements, as much as the whole state is bound to keep its
faith with separate communities. Otherwise competence and power would
soon be confounded, and no law be left but the will of a prevailing
force. On this principle the succession of the crown has always been
what it now is, an hereditary succession by law: in the old line it was
a succession by the common law; in the new by the statute law, operating
on the principles of the common law, not changing the substance, but
regulating the mode and describing the persons. Both these descriptions
of law are of the same force, and are derived from an equal authority,
emanating from the common agreement and original compact of the state,
communi sponsione reipublicae, and as such are equally binding on king
people too, as long as the terms are observed, and they continue the
same body politic.


If we were to know nothing of this assembly but by its title and
function, no colours could paint to the imagination anything more
venerable. In that light the mind of an inquirer, subdued by such an
awful image as that of the virtue and wisdom of a whole people
collected into one focus, would pause and hesitate in condemning
things even of the very worst aspect. Instead of blameable, they
would appear only mysterious. But no name, no power, no function, no
artificial institution whatsoever, can make the men of whom any
system of authority is composed, any other than God, and nature, and
education, and their habits of life have made them. Capacities beyond
these the people have not to give. Virtue and wisdom may be the
objects of their choice; but their choice confers neither the one nor
the other on those upon whom they lay their ordaining hands. They
have not the engagement of nature, they have not the promise of
revelation, for any such power.


The Revolution was made to preserve our ANCIENT, indisputable laws and
liberties, and that ANCIENT constitution of government which is our only
security for law and liberty. If you are desirous of knowing the spirit
of our constitution, and the policy which predominated in that great
period which has secured it to this hour, pray look for both in our
histories, in our records, in our acts of parliament, and journals of
parliament, and not in the sermons of the Old Jewry, and the
after-dinner toasts of the Revolution Society. In the former you will
find other ideas and another language. Such a claim is as ill suited to
our temper and wishes as it is unsupported by any appearance of
authority. The very idea of the fabrication of a new government is
enough to fill us with disgust and horror. We wished at the period of
the Revolution, and do now wish, to derive all we possess as AN
INHERITANCE FROM OUR FOREFATHERS. Upon that body and stock of
inheritance, we have taken care not to inoculate any scion alien to the
nature of the original plant. All the reformations we have hitherto made
have proceeded upon the principle of reverence to antiquity; and I hope,
nay, I am persuaded, that all those which possibly may be made
hereafter, will be carefully formed upon analogical precedent,
authority, and example.

Our oldest reformation is that of Magna Charta. You will see that Sir
Edward Coke, that great oracle of our law, and indeed all the great men
who follow him, to Blackstone, are industrious to prove the pedigree of
our liberties. They endeavour to prove, that the ancient charter, the
Magna Charta of King John, was connected with another positive charter
from Henry I., and that both the one and the other were nothing more
than a re-affirmance of the still more ancient standing law of the
kingdom. In the matter of fact, for the greater part, these authors
appear to be in the right; perhaps not always; but if the lawyers
mistake in some particulars, it proves my position still the more
strongly, because it demonstrates the powerful prepossession towards
antiquity, with much the minds of all our lawyers and legislators, and
of all the people whom they wish to influence, have been always filled;
and the stationary policy of this kingdom in considering their most
sacred rights and franchises as an INHERITANCE.

In the famous law of the 3rd of Charles I., called the PETITION OF
RIGHT, the parliament says to the king, "Your subjects have INHERITED
this freedom," claiming their franchises not on abstract principles "as
the rights of men," but as the rights of Englishmen, and as a patrimony
derived from their forefathers. Selden, and the other profoundly learned
men, who drew this petition of right, were as well acquainted, at least,
with all the general theories concerning the "rights of men," as any of
the discoursers in our pulpits, or on your tribune; full as well as Dr.
Price, or as the Abbe Sieyes. But, for reasons worthy of that practical
wisdom which superseded their theoretic science, they preferred this
positive, recorded, HEREDITARY title to all which can be dear to the man
and the citizen, to that vague speculative right, which exposed their
sure inheritance to be scrambled for and torn to pieces by every wild,
litigious spirit.

The same policy pervades all the laws which have since been made for the
preservation of our liberties. In the 1st of William and Mary, in the
famous statute called the Declaration of Right, the two houses utter not
a syllable of "a right to frame a government for themselves." You will
see, that their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and
liberties, that had been long possessed, and had been lately endangered.
"Taking into their most serious consideration the BEST means for making
such an establishment that their religion, laws, and liberties, might
not be in danger of being again subverted," they auspicate all their
proceedings, by stating as some of those BEST means, "in the FIRST
vindicating their ANCIENT rights and liberties, to DECLARE;"--and then
they pray the king and queen, "that it may be DECLARED and enacted, that
ALL AND SINGULAR the rights and liberties ASSERTED AND DECLARED, are the
true ANCIENT and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this

You will observe, that from Magna Charta to the Declaration of Right, it
has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our
liberties, as an ENTAILED INHERITANCE derived to us from our
forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity, as an estate
specially belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference
whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means our
constitution preserves a unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We
have an inheritable crown; an inheritable peerage; and a house of
commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties,
from a long line of ancestors.


When men of rank sacrifice all ideas of dignity to an ambition without a
distinct object, and work with low instruments and for low ends, the
whole composition becomes low and base. Does not something like this now
appear in France? Does it not produce something ignoble and inglorious?
a kind of meanness in all the prevalent policy? a tendency in all that
is done to lower along with individuals all the dignity and importance
of the state? Other revolutions have been conducted by persons, who,
whilst they attempted or affected changes in the commonwealth,
sanctified their ambition by advancing the dignity of the people whose
peace they troubled. They had long views. They aimed at the rule, not at
the destruction, of their country. They were men of great civil and
great military talents, and if the terror, the ornament of their age.
They were not like Jew brokers, contending with each other who could
best remedy with fraudulent circulation and depreciated paper the
wretchedness and ruin brought on their country by their degenerate
councils. The compliment made to one of the great bad men of the old
stamp (Cromwell) by his kinsman, a favourite poet of that time, shows
what it was he proposed, and what indeed to a great degree he
accomplished, in the success of his ambition:--

"Still as YOU rise, the STATE exalted too,
Finds no distemper whilst 'tis changed by YOU:
Changed like the world's great scene, when without noise
The rising sun night's VULGAR lights destroys."

These disturbers were not so much like men usurping power, as asserting
their natural place in society. Their rising was to illuminate and
beautify the world. Their conquest over their competitors was by
outshining them. The hand that, like a destroying angel, smote the
country, communicated to it the force and energy under which it
suffered. I do not say (God forbid), I do not say, that the virtues of
such men were to be taken as a balance to their crimes: but they were
some corrective to their effects. Such was, as I said, our Cromwell.
Such were your whole race of Guises, Condes, and Colignis. Such the
Richelieus, who in more quite times acted in the spirit of a civil war.
Such, as better men, and in a less dubious cause, were your Henry the
Fourth and your Sully, though nursed in civil confusions, and not wholly
without some of their taint. It is a thing to be wondered at, to see how
very soon France, when she had a moment to respire, recovered and
emerged from the longest and most dreadful civil war that ever was known
in any nation. Why? Because among all their massacres, they had not
slain the MIND in their country. A conscious dignity, a noble pride, a
generous sense of glory and emulation, was not extinguished. On the
contrary, it was kindled and enflamed. The organs also of the state,
however shattered, existed. All the prizes of honour and virtue, all the
rewards, all the distinctions, remained. But your present confusion,
like a palsy, has attacked the fountain of life itself. Every person in
your country, in a situation to be actuated by a principle of honour, is
disgraced and degraded, and can entertain no sensation of life, except
in a mortified and humiliated indignation. But this generation will
quickly pass away. The next generation of the nobility will resemble the
artificers and clowns, and money-jobbers, usurers, and Jews, who will be
always their fellows, sometimes their masters. Believe me, Sir, those
who attempt to level, never equalise. In all societies, consisting of
various descriptions of citizens, some description must be uppermost.
The levellers therefore only change and pervert the natural order of
things; they load the edifice of society, by setting up in the air what
the solidity of the structure requires to be on the ground. The
associations of tailors and carpenters, of which the republic (of Paris,
for instance), is composed, cannot be equal to the situation into which,
by the worst of usurpations, a usurpation on the prerogatives of nature,
you attempt to force them.

The Chancellor of France, at the opening of the states, said, in a tone
of oratorical flourish, that all occupations were honourable. If he
meant only, that no honest employment was disgraceful, he would not have
gone beyond the truth. But in asserting that anything is honourable, we
imply some distinction in its favour. The occupation of a hair-dresser,
or of a working tallow-chandler, cannot be a matter of honour to any
person--to say nothing of a number of other more servile employments.
Such descriptions of men ought not to suffer oppression from the state;
but the state suffers oppression, if such as they, either individually
or collectively, are permitted to rule. In this you think you are
combating prejudice, but you are at war with nature.


The British House of Commons, without shutting its doors to any merit in
any class, is, by the sure operation of adequate causes, filled with
everything illustrious in rank, in descent, in hereditary and in
acquired opulence, in cultivated talents, in military, civil, naval, and
politic distinction, that the country can afford. But supposing, what
hardly can be supposed as a case, that the House of Commons should be
composed in the same manner with the Tiers-Etat in France, would this
dominion of chicane be borne with patience, or even conceived without
horror? God forbid I should insinuate anything derogatory to that
profession, which is another priesthood, administering the rights of
sacred justice. But whilst I revere men in the functions which belong to
them, and would do as much as one man can do to prevent their exclusion
from any, I cannot, to flatter them, give the lie to nature. They are
good and useful in the composition; they must be mischievous if they
preponderate so as virtually to become the whole. Their very excellence
in their peculiar functions may be far from a qualification for others.
It cannot escape observation, that when men are too much confined to
professional and faculty habits, and as it were inveterate in the
recurrent employment of that narrow circle, they are rather disabled
than qualified for whatever depends on the knowledge of mankind, on
experience in mixed affairs, on a comprehensive, connected view of the
various, complicated, external, and internal interests, which go to the
formation of that multifarious thing called a state. After all, if the
House of Commons were to have a wholly professional and faculty
composition, what is the power of the House of Commons, circumscribed
and shut in by the immoveable barriers of law, usages, positive rules of
doctrine and practice, counterpoised by the House of Lords, and every
moment of its existence at the discretion of the crown to continue,
prorogue, or dissolve us? The power of the House of Commons, direct or
indirect, is indeed great; and long may it be able to preserve its
greatness, and the spirit belonging to true greatness, at the full; and
it will do so, as long as it can keep the breakers of law in India from
becoming the makers of law for England. The power, however, of the House
of Commons, when least diminished, is as a drop of water in the ocean,
compared to that residing in a settled majority of your National
Assembly. That assembly, since the destruction of the orders, has no
fundamental law, no strict convention, no respected usage to restrain
it. Instead of finding themselves obliged to conform to a fixed
constitution, they have a power to make a constitution which shall
conform to their designs. Nothing in heaven or upon earth can serve as a
control on them. What ought to be the heads, the hearts, the
dispositions, that are qualified, or that dare, not only to make laws
under a fixed constitution, but at one heat to strike out a totally new
constitution for a great kingdom, and every part of it, from the monarch
on the throne to the vestry of a parish? But--"fools rush in where
angels fear to tread." In such a state of unbounded power, for undefined
and indefinable purposes, the evil of a moral and almost physical
inaptitude of the man to the function, must be the greatest we can
conceive to happen in the management of human affairs.


Nothing is a due and adequate representation of a state that does not
represent its ability, as well as its property. But as ability is a
vigorous and active principle, and as property is sluggish, inert, and
timid, it never can be safe from the invasions of ability, unless it be,
out of all proportion, predominant in the representation. It must be
represented too in great masses of accumulation, or it is not rightly
protected. The characteristic essence of property, formed out of the
combined principles of its acquisition and conservation, is to be
UNEQUAL. The great masses, therefore, which excite envy, and tempt
rapacity, must be put out of the possibility of danger. Then they form a
natural rampart about the lesser properties in all their gradations. The
same quantity of property, which is by the natural course of things
divided among many, has not the same operation. Its defensive power is
weakened as it is diffused. In this diffusion each man's portion is less
than what, in the eagerness of his desires, he may flatter himself to
obtain by dissipating the accumulations of others. The plunder of the
few would, indeed, give but a share inconceivably small in the
distribution to the many. But the many are not capable of making this
calculation; and those who lead them to rapine never intend this

The power of perpetuating our property in our families is one of the
most valuable and interesting circumstances belonging to it, and that
which tends the most to the perpetuation of society itself. It makes our
weakness subservient to our virtue; it grafts benevolence even upon
avarice. The possessors of family wealth, and of the distinction which
attends hereditary possession (as most concerned in it), are the natural
securities for this transmission. With us the House of Peers is formed
upon this principle. It is wholly composed of hereditary property and
hereditary distinction; and made, therefore, the third of the
legislature; and, in the last event, the sole judge of all property in
all its subdivisions. The House of Commons, too, though not necessarily,
yet in fact, is always so composed, in the far greater part. Let those
large proprietors be what they will, and they have their chance of being
among the best, they are, at the very worst, the ballast in the vessel
of the commonwealth. For though hereditary wealth, and the rank which
goes with it, are too much idolized by creeping sycophants, and the
blind, abject admirers of power, they are too rashly slighted in shallow
speculations of the petulant, assuming, short-sighted coxcombs of
philosophy. Some decent, regulated pre-eminence, some preference (not
exclusive appropriation) given to birth, is neither unnatural, nor
unjust, nor impolitic. It is said, that twenty-four millions ought to
prevail over two hundred thousand. True; if the constitution of a
kingdom be a problem of arithmetic. This sort of discourse does well
enough with the lamp-post for its second: to men who MAY reason calmly,
it is ridiculous. The will of the many, and their interest, must very
often differ; and great will be the difference when they make an evil


I do not, my dear sir, conceive you to be of that sophistical, captious
spirit, or of that uncandid dulness, as to require, for every general
observation or sentiment, an explicit detail of the correctives and
exceptions which reason will presume to be included in all the general
propositions which come from reasonable men. You do not imagine that I
wish to confine power, authority, and distinction to blood, and names,
and titles. No, sir. There is no qualification for government but virtue
and wisdom, actual or presumptive. Wherever they are actually found,
they have, in whatever state, condition, profession, or trade, the
passport of heaven to human place and honour. Woe to that country which
would madly and impiously reject the service of the talents and virtues,
civil, military, or religious, that are given to grace and to serve it;
and would condemn to obscurity everything formed to diffuse lustre and
glory around a state. Woe to that country, too, that, passing into the
opposite extreme, considers a low education, a mean, contracted view of
things, a sordid, mercenary occupation, as a preferable title to
command. Everything ought to be open; but not indifferently to every
man. No rotation; no appointment by lot; no mode of election operating
in the spirit of sortition, or rotation, can be generally good in a
government conversant in extensive objects. Because they have no
tendency, direct or indirect, to select the man with a view to the duty,
or to accommodate the one to the other. I do not hesitate to say, that
the road to eminence and power, from obscure condition, ought not to be
made too easy, nor a thing too much of course. If rare merit be the
rarest of all rare things, in ought to pass through some sort of
probation. The temple of honour ought to be seated on an eminence. If it
be opened through virtue, let it be remembered, too, that virtue is
never tried but by some difficulty and some struggle.


Far am I from denying in theory, full as far as is my heart from
withholding in practice (if I were of power to give or to withhold), the
REAL rights of men. In denying their false claims of right, I do not
mean to injure those which are real, and are such as their pretended
rights would totally destroy. If civil society be made for the advantage
of man, all the advantages for which it is made become his right. It is
an institution of beneficence; and law itself is only beneficence acting
by a rule. Men have a right to live by that rule; they have a right to
do justice, as between their fellows, whether their fellows are in
politic function, or in ordinary occupation. They have a right to the
fruits of their industry, and to the means of making their industry
fruitful. They have a right to the acquisitions of their parents; to the
nourishment and improvement of their offspring; to instruction in life,
and to consolation in death. Whatever each man can separately do,
without trespassing upon others, he has a right to do for himself; and
he has a right to a fair portion of all which society, with all its
combinations of skill and force, can do in his favour. In this
partnership all men have equal rights; but not to equal things. He that
has but five shillings in the partnership, has as good a right to it, as
he that has five hundred pounds has to his larger proportion. But he has
not a right to an equal dividend in the product of the joint-stock; and
as to the share of power, authority, and direction which each individual
ought to have in the management of the state, that I must deny to be
amongst the direct original rights of man in civil society; for I have
in my contemplation the civil social man, and no other. It is a thing to
be settled by convention. If civil society be the offspring of
convention, that convention must be its law. That convention must limit
and modify all the descriptions of constitution which are formed under
it. Every sort of legislature, judicial, or executory power, are its
creatures. They can have no being in any other state of things; and how
can any man claim, under the conventions of civil society, rights which
do not so much as suppose its existence? Rights which are absolutely
repugnant to it? One of the first motives to civil society, and which
becomes one of its fundamental rules, is, THAT NO MAN SHOULD BE JUDGE IN
HIS OWN CAUSE. By this each person has at once divested himself of the
first fundamental right of uncovenanted man, that is, to judge for
himself, and to assert his own cause. He abdicates all right to be his
own governor. He inclusively, in a great measure, abandons the right of
self-defence, the first law of nature. Men cannot enjoy the rights of an
uncivil and of a civil state together. That he may obtain justice, he
gives up his right of determining what it is in points the most
essential to him. That he may secure some liberty, he makes a surrender
in trust of the whole of it.

Government is not made in virtue of natural rights, which may and do
exist in total independence of it; and exist in much greater clearness,
and in a much greater degree of abstract perfection: but their abstract
perfection is their practical defect. By having a right to everything
they want everything. Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to
provide for human WANTS. Men have a right that these wants should be
provided for by this wisdom. Among these wants is to be reckoned the
want, out of civil society, of a sufficient restraint upon their
passions. Society requires not only that the passions of individuals
should be subjected, but that even in the mass and body, as well as in
the individuals, the inclinations of men should frequently be thwarted,
their will controlled, and their passions brought into subjection. This
can only be done BY A POWER OUT OF THEMSELVES, and not, in the exercise
of its function, subject to that will and to those passions which it is
its office to bridle and subdue. In this sense the restraints on men, as
well as their liberties, are to be reckoned among their rights. But as
the liberties and the restrictions vary with times and circumstances,
and admit of infinite modifications, they cannot be settled upon any
abstract rule; and nothing is so foolish as to discuss them upon that

The moment you abate anything from the full rights of men, each to
govern himself, and suffer any artificial, positive limitation upon
those rights, from that moment the whole organization of government
becomes a consideration of convenience. This it is which makes the
constitution of a state, and the due distribution of its powers, a
matter of the most delicate and complicated skill. It requires a deep
knowledge of human nature and human necessities, and of the things which
facilitate or obstruct the various ends, which are to be pursued by the
mechanism of civil institutions. The state is to have recruits to its
strength, and remedies to its distempers. What is the use of discussing
a man's abstract right to food or medicine? The question is upon the
method of procuring and administering them. In that deliberation I shall
always advise to call in the aid of the farmer and the physician, rather
than the professor of metaphysics. The science of constructing a
commonwealth, or renovating it, or reforming it, is, like every other
experimental science, not to be taught a priori. Nor is it a short
experience that can instruct us in that practical science, because the
real effects of moral causes are not always immediate; but that which in
the first instance is prejudicial may be excellent in its remoter
operation; and its excellence may arise even from the ill effects it
produces in the beginning. The reverse also happens; and very plausible
schemes, with very pleasing commencements, have often shameful and
lamentable conclusions. In states there are often some obscure and
almost latent causes, things which appear at first view of little
moment, on which a very great part of its prosperity or adversity may
most essentially depend. The science of government being therefore so
practical in itself, and intended for such practical purposes, a matter
which requires experience, and even more experience than any person can
gain in his whole life, however sagacious and observing he may be, it is
with infinite caution that any man ought to venture upon pulling down an
edifice, which has answered in any tolerable degree for ages the common
purposes of society, or on building it up again, without having models
and patterns of approved utility before his eyes.

These metaphysic rights entering into common life, like rays of light
which pierce into a dense medium, are, by the laws of nature, refracted
from their straight line. Indeed in the gross and complicated mass of
human passions and concerns, the primitive rights of men undergo such a
variety of refractions and reflections, that it becomes absurd to talk
of them as if they continued in the simplicity of their original
direction. The nature of man is intricate; the objects of society are of
the greatest possible complexity: and therefore no simple disposition or
direction of power can be suitable either to man's nature, or to the
quality of his affairs. When I hear the simplicity of contrivance aimed
at and boasted of in any new political constitutions, I am at no loss to
decide that the artificers are grossly ignorant of their trade, or
totally negligent of their duty. The simple governments are
fundamentally defective, to say no worse of them. If you were to
contemplate society in but one point of view, all these simple modes of
polity are infinitely captivating. In effect each would answer its
single end much more perfectly than the more complex is able to attain
all its complex purposes. But it is better that the whole should be
imperfectly and anomalously answered, than that, while some parts are
provided for with great exactness, others might be totally neglected, or
perhaps materially injured, by the over-care of a favourite member.

The pretended rights of these theorists are all extremes: and in
proportion as they are metaphysically true, they are morally and
politically false. The rights of men are in a sort of MIDDLE, incapable
of definition, but not impossible to be discerned. The rights of men in
governments are their advantages, and these are often in balances
between differences of good; in compromises sometimes between good and
evil, and sometimes between evil and evil. Political reason is a
computing principle, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing,
morally and not metaphysically or mathematically, true moral

By these theorists the right of the people is almost always
sophistically confounded with their power. The body of the community,
whenever it can come to act, can meet with no effectual resistance; but
till power and right are the same, the whole body of them has no right
inconsistent with virtue, and the first of all virtues--prudence.

MARIE ANTOINETTE. It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the
queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never
lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful
vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the
elevated sphere she just began to move in,--glittering like the
morning-star, full of life, and splendour, and joy. Oh! what a
revolution! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion
that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream when she added titles
of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that
she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace
concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to
see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a
nation of men of honour and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords
must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that
threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of
sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of
Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more shall we behold that
generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified
obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in
servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace
of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and
heroic enterprise, is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle,
that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired
courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it
touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all
its grossness.


How much of that prosperous state was owing to the spirit of our old
manners and opinions is not easy to say; but as such causes cannot be
indifferent in their operation, we must presume that, on the whole,
their operation was beneficial.

We are but too apt to consider things in the state in which we find
them, without sufficiently adverting to the causes by which they have
been produced, and possibly may be upheld. Nothing is more certain, than
that our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are
connected with manners and with civilization, have, in this European
world of ours, depended for ages upon two principles, and were indeed
the result of both combined; I mean the spirit of a gentleman and the
spirit of religion. The nobility and the clergy, the one by profession,
the other by patronage, kept learning in existence, even in the midst of
arms and confusions, and whilst governments were rather in their causes,
than formed. Learning paid back what it received to nobility and to
priesthood; and paid it with usury, by enlarging their ideas, and by
furnishing their minds. Happy if they had all continued to know their
indissoluble union, and their proper place! Happy if learning, not
debauched by ambition, had been satisfied to continue the instructor,
and not aspired to be the master! Along with its natural protectors and
guardians, learning will be cast into the mire, and trodden down under
the hoofs of a swinish multitude.

If, as I suspect, modern letters owe more than they are always willing
to own to ancient manners, so do other interests which we value full as
much as they are worth. Even commerce, and trade, and manufacture, the
gods of our economical politicians, are themselves, perhaps, but
creatures; are themselves but effects, which, as first causes, we choose
to worship. They certainly grew under the same shade in which learning
flourished. They too may decay with their natural protecting principles.
With you, for the present at least, they all threaten to disappear
together. Where trade and manufactures are wanting to a people, and the
spirit of nobility and religion remains, sentiment supplies, and not
always ill supplies, their place; but if commerce and the arts should be
lost in an experiment to try how well a state may stand without these
old fundamental principles, what sort of a thing must be a nation of
gross, stupid, ferocious, and, at the same time, poor and sordid
barbarians, destitute of religion, honour, or manly pride, possessing
nothing at present, and hoping for nothing hereafter?


But power, of some kind or other, will survive the shock in which
manners and opinions perish! And it will find other and worse means for
its support. The usurpation which, in order to subvert ancient
institutions, has destroyed ancient principles, will hold power by arts
similar to those by which it has acquired it. When the old feudal and
chivalrous spirit of FEALTY, which, by freeing kings from fear, freed
both kings and subjects from the precaution of tyranny, shall be extinct
in the minds of men, plots and assassinations will be anticipated by
preventive murder and preventive confiscation, and that long roll of
grim and bloody maxims, which form the political code of all power, not
standing on its own honour, and the honour of those who are to obey it.
Kings will be tyrants from policy, when subjects are rebels from


This mixed system of opinion and sentiment had its origin in the
ancient chivalry; and the principle, though varied in its appearance
by the varying state of human affairs, subsisted and influenced
through a long succession of generations, even to the time we live
in. If it should ever be totally extinguished, the loss I fear will
be great. It is this which has given its character to modern Europe.
It is this which has distinguished it under all its forms of
government, and distinguished it, to its advantage, from the states
of Asia, and possibly from those states which flourished in the most
brilliant periods of the antique world. It was this which, without
confounding ranks, had produced a noble equality, and handed it down
through all the gradations of social life. It was this opinion which
mitigated kings into companions, and raised private men to be fellows
with kings. Without force or opposition, it subdued the fierceness
of pride and power; it obliged sovereigns to submit to the soft
collar of social esteem, compelled stern authority to submit to
elegance, and gave a dominating vanquisher of laws to be subdued by

But now all is to be changed. All the pleasing illusions, which made
power gentle, and obedience liberal, which harmonized the different
shades of life, and which, by a bland assimilation, incorporated into
politics the sentiments which beautify and soften private society, are
to be dissolved by this new conquering empire of light and reason. All
the decent drapery of life is to be rudely torn off. All the superadded
ideas, furnished from the wardrobe of a moral imagination, which the
heart owns and the understanding ratifies as necessary to cover the
defects of our naked, shivering nature, and to raise it to dignity in
our own estimation, are to be exploded as a ridiculous, absurd, and
antiquated fashion.

On this scheme of things, a king is but a man, a queen is but a woman; a
woman is but an animal,--and an animal not of the highest order. All
homage paid to the sex in general as such, and without distinct views,
is to be regarded as romance and folly. Regicide, and parricide, and
sacrilege are but fictions of superstition, corrupting jurisprudence by
destroying its simplicity. The murder of a king, or a queen, or a
bishop, or a father, are only common homicide; and if the people are by
any chance, or in any way, gainers by it, a sort of homicide much the
most pardonable, and into which we ought not to make too severe a

On the scheme of this barbarous philosophy, which is the offspring of
cold hearts and muddy understandings, and which is as void of solid
wisdom as it is destitute of all taste and elegance, laws are to be
supported only by their own terrors, and by the concern which each
individual may find in them from his own private speculations, or can
spare to them from his own private interests. In the groves of THEIR
academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows.
Nothing is left which engages the affections on the part of the
commonwealth. On the principles of this mechanic philosophy, our
institutions can never be embodied, if I may use the expression, in
persons, so as to create in us love, veneration, admiration, or
attachment. But that sort of reason which banishes the affections is
incapable of filling their place. These public affections, combined with
manners, are required sometimes as supplements, sometimes as
correctives, always as aids to law. The precept given by a wise man, as
well as a great critic, for the construction of poems, is equally true
as to states:--Non satis est pulchra esse poemata, dulcia sunto. There
ought to be a system of manners in every nation which a well-formed mind
would be disposed to relish. To make us love our country, our country
ought to be lovely.


Why do I feel so differently from the Reverend Dr. Price, and those
of his lay flock, who will choose to adopt the sentiments of his
discourse? For this plain reason--because it is NATURAL I should;
because we are so made, as to be affected at such spectacles with
melancholy sentiments upon the unstable condition of mortal
prosperity and the tremendous uncertainty of human greatness; because
in those natural feelings we learn great lessons; because in events
like these our passions instruct our reason; because when kings are
hurled from their thrones by the Supreme Director of this great
drama, and become the objects of insult to the base, and of pity to
the good, we behold such disasters in the moral, as we should behold
a miracle in the physical, order of things. We are alarmed into
reflection; our minds (as it has long since been observed) are
purified by terror and pity; our weak, unthinking pride is humbled
under the dispensations of a mysterious wisdom. Some tears might be
drawn from me, if such a spectacle were exhibited on the stage. I
should be truly ashamed of finding in myself that superficial,
theatric sense of painted distress, whilst I could exult over it in
real life. With such a perverted mind, I could never venture to show
my face at a tragedy. People would think the tears that Garrick
formerly, or that Siddons not long since, have extorted from me, were
the tears of hypocrisy; I should know them to be the tears of folly.

Indeed the theatre is a better school of moral sentiments than churches,
where the feelings of humanity are thus outraged. Poets who have to deal
with an audience not yet graduated in the school of the rights of men,
and who must apply themselves to the moral constitution of the heart,
would not dare to produce such a triumph as a matter of exultation.
There, where men follow their natural impulses, they would not bear the
odious maxims of a Machiavelian policy, whether applied to the
attainment of monarchical or democratic tyranny. They would reject them
on the modern, as they once did on the ancient stage, where they could
not bear even the hypothetical proposition of such wickedness in the
mouth of a personated tyrant, though suitable to the character he
sustained. No theatric audience in Athens would bear what has been
borne, in the midst of the real tragedy of this triumphal day; a
principal actor weighing, as it were in scales hung in a shop of
horrors, so much actual crime against so much contingent advantage, and
after putting in and out weights, declaring that the balance was on the
side of the advantages. They would not bear to see the crimes of new
democracy posted as in a ledger against the crimes of old despotism, and
the book-keepers of politics finding democracy still in debt, but by no
means unable or unwilling to pay the balance. In the theatre, the first
intuitive glance, without any elaborate process of reasoning, will show,
that this method of political computation would justify every extent of
crime. They would see, that on these principles, even where the very
worst acts were not perpetrated, it was owing rather to the fortune of
the conspirators, than to their parsimony in the expenditure of
treachery and blood. They would soon see, that criminal means once
tolerated are soon preferred. They present a shorter cut to the object
than through the highway of the moral virtues. Justifying perfidy and
murder for public benefit, public benefit would soon become the pretext,
and perfidy and murder the end; until rapacity, malice, revenge, and
fear more dreadful than revenge, could satiate their insatiable
appetites. Such must be the consequences of losing, in the splendour of
these triumphs of the rights of men, all natural sense of wrong and


Had it pleased God to continue to me the hopes of succession, I
should have been, according to my mediocrity, and the mediocrity of
the age I live in, a sort of founder of a family: I should have left
a son, who, in all the points in which personal merit can be
viewed,--in science, in erudition, in genius, in taste, in honour, in
generosity, in humanity, in every liberal sentiment, and every
liberal accomplishment,--would not have shown himself inferior to the
duke of Bedford, or to any of those whom he traces in his line. His
grace very soon would have wanted all plausibility in his attack upon
that provision which belonged more to mine than to me. He would soon
have supplied every deficiency, and symmetrized every disproportion.
It would not have been for that successor to resort to any stagnant
wasting reservoir of merit in me, or in any ancestry. He had in
himself a salient, living spring of generous and manly action. Every
day he lived he would have re-purchased the bounty of the Crown, and
ten times more, if ten times more he had received. He was made a
public creature, and had no enjoyment whatever but in the performance
of some duty. At this exigent moment, the loss of a finished man is
not easily supplied.

But a Disposer whose power we are little able to resist, and whose
wisdom it behoves us not at all to dispute, has ordained it in another
manner, and (whatever my querulous weakness might suggest) a far better.
The storm has gone over me, and I lie like one of those old oaks which
the late hurricane has scattered about me. I am stripped of all my
honours, I am torn up by the roots, and lie prostrate on the earth!
There, and prostrate there, I most unfeignedly recognise the divine
justice, and in some degree submit to it. But whilst I humble myself
before God, I do not know that it is forbidden to repel the attacks of
unjust and inconsiderate men. The patience of Job is proverbial. After
some of the convulsive struggles of our irritable nature, he submitted
himself, and repented in dust and ashes. But even so, I do not find him
blamed for reprehending, and with a considerable degree of verbal
asperity, those ill-natured neighbours of his, who visited his dunghill
to read moral, political, and economical lectures on his misery. I am
alone. I have none to meet my enemies in the gate. Indeed, my Lord, I
greatly deceive myself, if in this hard season I would give a peck of
refuse wheat for all that is called fame and honour in the world. This
is the appetite but of a few. It is a luxury, it is a privilege, it is
an indulgence for those who are at their ease. But we are all of us made
to shun disgrace, as we are made to shrink from pain, and poverty, and
disease. It is an instinct; and under the direction of reason, instinct
is always in the right. I live in an inverted order. They who ought to
have succeeded me have gone before me. They who should have been to me
as posterity are in the place of ancestors. I owe to the dearest
relation (which ever must subsist in memory) that act of piety which he
would have performed to me; I owe it to him to show that he was not
descended, as the duke of Bedford would have it, from an unworthy


History, who keeps a durable record of all our acts, and exercises her
awful censure over the proceedings of all sorts of sovereigns, will not
forget either those events or the era of this liberal refinement in the
intercourse of mankind. History will record, that on the morning of the
6th of October, 1789, the king and queen of France, after a day of
confusion, alarm, dismay, and slaughter, lay down, under the pledged
security of public faith, to indulge nature in a few hours of respite,
and troubled, melancholy repose. From this sleep the queen was first
startled by the voice of the sentinel at her door, who cried out to her
to save herself by flight--that this was the last proof of fidelity he
could give--that they were upon him, and he was dead. Instantly he was
cut down. A band of cruel ruffians and assassins, reeking with his
blood, rushed into the chamber of the queen, and pierced with a hundred
strokes of bayonets and poniards the bed from whence this persecuted
woman had but just time to fly almost naked, and, through ways unknown
to the murderers, had escaped to seek refuge at the feet of a king and
husband, not secure of his own life for a moment. This king, to say no
more of him, and this queen, and their infant children (who once would
have been the pride and hope of a great and generous people), were then
forced to abandon the sanctuary of the most splendid palace in the
world, which they left swimming in blood, polluted by massacre, and
strewed with scattered limbs and mutilated carcases. Thence they were
conducted into the capital of their kingdom. Two had been selected from
the unprovoked, unresisted, promiscuous slaughter, which was made of the
gentlemen of birth and family who composed the king's body-guard. These
two gentlemen, with all the parade of an execution of justice, were
cruelly and publicly dragged to the block, and beheaded in the great
court of the palace. Their heads were stuck upon spears, and led the
procession; whilst the royal captives who followed in the train were
slowly moved along, amidst the horrid yells, and shrilling screams, and
frantic dances, and infamous contumelies, and all the unutterable
abominations of the furies of hell, in the abused shape of the vilest of
women. After they had been made to taste, drop by drop, more than the
bitterness of death, in the slow torture of a journey of twelve miles,
protracted to six hours, they were, under a guard composed of those very
soldiers who had thus conducted them through this famous triumph, lodged
in one of the old palaces of Paris, now converted into a Bastille for

Is this a triumph to be consecrated at altars? to be commemorated with
grateful thanksgiving? to be offered to the divine humanity with fervent
prayer and enthusiastic ejaculation?--These Theban and Thracian orgies,
acted in France, and applauded only in the Old Jewry, I assure you,
kindle prophetic enthusiasm in the minds but of very few people in this
kingdom: although a saint and apostle, who may have revelations of his
own, and who has so completely vanquished all the mean superstitions of
the heart, may incline to think it pious and decorous to compare it with
the entrance into the world of the Prince of Peace, proclaimed in a holy
temple by a venerable sage, and not long before not worse announced by
the voice of angels to quiet the innocence of shepherds.


Economy in my plans was, as it ought to be, secondary, subordinate,
instrumental. I acted on state principles. I found a great distemper in
the commonwealth; and, according to the nature of the evil and of the
object, I treated it. The malady was deep; it was complicated, in the
causes and in the symptoms. Throughout it was full of contra-indicants.
On one hand government, daily growing more invidious from an apparent
increase of the means of strength, was every day growing more
contemptible by real weakness. Nor was this dissolution confined to
government commonly so called. It extended to parliament; which was
losing not a little in its dignity and estimation, by an opinion of its
not acting on worthy motives. On the other hand, the desires of the
people (partly natural and partly infused into them by art) appeared in
so wild and inconsiderate a manner, with regard to the economical object
(for I set aside for a moment the dreadful tampering with the body of
the constitution itself), that, if their petitions had literally been
complied with, the state would have been convulsed, and a gate would
have been opened through which all property might be sacked and ravaged.
Nothing could have saved the public from the mischiefs of the false
reform but its absurdity, which would soon have brought itself, and with
it all real reform, into discredit. This would have left a rankling
wound in the hearts of the people, who would know they had failed in the
accomplishment of their wishes, but who, like the rest of mankind in all
ages, would impute the blame to anything rather than to their own
proceedings. But there were then persons in the world who nourished
complaint, and would have been thoroughly disappointed if the people
were ever satisfied. I was not of that humour. I wished that they SHOULD
be satisfied. It was my aim to give to the people the substance of what
I knew they desired, and what I thought was right, whether they desired
or not, before it had been modified for them into senseless petitions. I
knew that there is a manifest, marked distinction, which ill men with
ill designs, or weak men incapable of any design, will constantly be
confounding, that is a marked distinction between change and
reformation. The former alters the substance of the objects themselves,
and gets rid of all their essential good, as well as of all the
accidental evil, annexed to them. Change is novelty; and whether it is
to operate any one of the effects of reformation at all, or whether it
may not contradict the very principle upon which reformation is desired,
cannot be certainly known beforehand. Reform is not a change in the
substance, or in the primary modification of the object, but a direct
application of a remedy to the grievance complained of. So far as that
is removed, all is sure. It stops there; and if it fails, the substance
which underwent the operation, at the very worst, is but where it was.
All this, in effect, I think, but am not sure, I have said elsewhere. It
cannot at this time be too often repeated; line upon line; precept upon
precept; until it comes into the currency of a proverb, TO INNOVATE IS
NOT TO REFORM. The French revolutionists complained of everything; they
refused to reform anything; and they left nothing, no, nothing at all,
UNCHANGED. The consequences are BEFORE us,--not in remote history; not
in future prognostication: they are about us; they are upon us. They
shake the public security; they menace private enjoyment. They dwarf the
growth of the young; they break the quiet of the old. If we travel, they
stop our way. They infest us in town; they pursue us to the country. Our
business is interrupted; our repose is troubled; our pleasures are
saddened; our very studies are poisoned and perverted, and knowledge is
rendered worse than ignorance by the enormous evils of this dreadful
innovation. The revolution harpies of France, sprung from night and
hell, or from that chaotic anarchy which generates equivocally "all
monstrous, all prodigious things," cuckoo-like, adulterously lay their
eggs, and brood over, and hatch them in the nest of every neighbouring
state. These obscene harpies, who deck themselves in I know not what
divine attributes, but who in reality are foul and ravenous birds of
prey (both mothers and daughters), flutter over our heads, and souse
down upon our tables, and leave nothing unrent, unrifled, unravaged, or
unpolluted with the slime of their filthy offal.


The Assembly recommends to its youth a study of the bold experimenters
in morality. Everybody knows that there is a great dispute amongst their
leaders, which of them is the best resemblance of Rousseau. In truth,
they all resemble him. His blood they transfuse into their minds and
into their manners. Him they study; him they meditate; him they turn
over in all the time they can spare from the laborious mischief of the
day, or the debauches of the night. Rousseau is their canon of holy
writ; in his life he is their canon of Polycletus; he is their standard
figure of perfection. To this man and this writer, as a pattern to
authors and to Frenchmen, the foundries of Paris are now running for
statues, with the kettles of their poor and the bells of their churches.
If an author had written like a great genius on geometry, though its
practical and speculative morals were vicious in the extreme, it might
appear, that in voting the statue, they honoured only the geometrician.
But Rousseau is a moralist, or he is nothing. It is impossible,
therefore, putting the circumstances together, to mistake their design
in choosing the author, with whom they have begun to recommend a courses

Their great problem is to find a substitute for all the principles which
hitherto have been employed to regulate the human will and action. They
find dispositions in the mind of such force and quality as may fit men,
far better than the old morality, for the purposes of such a state as
theirs, and may go much further in supporting their power and destroying
their enemies. They have therefore chosen a selfish, flattering,
seductive, ostentatious vice, in the place of plain duty. True humility,
the basis of the Christian system, is the low, but deep and firm,
foundation of all real virtue. But this, as very painful in the
practice, and little imposing in the appearance, they have totally
discarded. Their object is to merge all natural and all social sentiment
in inordinate vanity. In a small degree, and conversant in little
things, vanity is of little moment. When full grown, it is the worst of
vices, and the occasional mimic of them all. It makes the whole man
false. It leaves nothing sincere or trustworthy about him. His best
qualities are poisoned and perverted by it, and operate exactly as the
worst. When your lords had many writers as immoral as the object of
their statue (such as Voltaire and others) they chose Rousseau, because
in him that peculiar vice, which they wished to erect into ruling
virtue, was by far the most conspicuous. We have had the great professor
and founder of THE PHILOSOPHY OF VANITY in England. As I had good
opportunities of knowing his proceedings almost from day to day, he left
no doubt on my mind that he entertained no principle either to influence
his heart, or to guide his understanding, but VANITY. With this vice he
was possessed to a degree little short of madness. It is from the same
deranged, eccentric vanity, that this, the insane Socrates of the
National Assembly, was impelled to publish a mad confession of his mad
faults, and to attempt a new sort of glory from bringing hardily to
light the obscure and vulgar vices which we know may sometimes be
blended with eminent talents. He has not observed on the nature of
vanity who does not know that it is omnivorous; that it has no choice in
its food; that it is fond to talk even of its own faults and vices, as
what will excite surprise and draw attention, and what will pass at
worst for openness and candour.

It was this abuse and perversion, which vanity makes even of hypocrisy,
that has driven Rousseau to record a life not so much as chequered, or
spotted here and there, with virtues, or even distinguished by a single
good action. It is such a life he chooses to offer to the attention of
mankind. It is such a life that, with a wild defiance, he flings in the
face of his Creator, whom he acknowledges only to brave. Your Assembly,
knowing how much more powerful example is found than precept, has chosen
this man (by his own account without a single virtue) for a model. To
him they erect their first statue. From him they commence their series
of honours and distinctions.

It is that new-invented virtue, which your masters canonize, that led
their model hero constantly to exhaust the stores of his powerful
rhetoric in the expression of universal benevolence; whilst his heart
was incapable of harbouring one spark of common parental affection.
Benevolence to the whole species, and want of feeling for every
individual with whom the professors come in contact, form the character
of the new philosophy. Setting up for an unsocial independence, this
their hero of vanity refuses the just price of common labour, as well as
the tribute which opulence owes to genius, and which, when paid, honours
the giver and the receiver: and then he pleads his beggary as an excuse
for his crimes. He melts with tenderness for those only who touch him by
the remotest relation, and then, without one natural pang, casts away,
as a sort of offal and excrement, the spawn of his disgustful amours,
and sends his children to the hospital of foundlings. The bear loves,
licks, and forms her young; but bears are not philosophers. Vanity,
however, finds its account in reversing the train of our natural
feelings. Thousands admire the sentimental writer; the affectionate
father is hardly known in his parish.

Under this philosophic instructor in the ETHICS OF VANITY, they have
attempted in France a regeneration of the moral constitution of man.
Statesmen, like your present rulers, exist by everything which is
spurious, fictitious, and false; by everything which takes the man from
his house, and sets him on a stage; which makes him up an artificial
creature, with painted theatric sentiments, fit to be seen by the glare
of candlelight, and formed to be contemplated at a due distance. Vanity
is too apt to prevail in all of us, and in all countries. To the
improvement of Frenchmen it seems not absolutely necessary that it
should be taught upon system. But it is plain that the present rebellion
was its legitimate offspring, and it is piously fed by that rebellion
with a daily dole. If the system of institution recommended by the
Assembly be false and theatric, it is because their system of government
is of the same character. To that, and to that alone, it is strictly
conformable. To understand either, we must connect the morals with the
politics of the legislators. Your practical philosophers, systematic in
everything, have wisely begun at the source. As the relation between
parents and children is the first amongst the elements of vulgar,
natural morality (Filiola tua te delectari laetor et probari tibi
phusiken esse ten pros ta tekna: etenim, si haec non est, nulla potest
homini esse ad hominem naturae adjunctio: qua sublata vitae societas
tollitur. Valete Patron (Rousseau) et tui condiscipuli (l'Assemblee
National).--Cic. Ep. ad Atticum.), they erect statues to a wild,
ferocious, low-minded, hard-hearted father, of fine general feelings; a
lover of his kind, but a hater of his kindred. Your masters reject the
duties of his vulgar relation, as contrary to liberty; as not founded in
the social compact; and not binding according to the rights of men;
because the relation is not, of course, the result of FREE ELECTION;
never so on the side of the children, not always on the part of the

The next relation which they regenerate by their statues to Rousseau is
that which is next in sanctity to that of a father. They differ from
those old-fashioned thinkers, who considered pedagogues as sober and
venerable characters, and allied to the parental. The moralists of the
dark times, preceptorum sancti voluere parentis esse loco. In this age
of light, they teach the people that preceptors ought to be in the place
of gallants. They systematically corrupt a very corruptible race (for
some time a growing nuisance amongst you), a set of pert, petulant
literators, to whom, instead of their proper, but severe, unostentatious
duties, they assign the brilliant part of men of wit and pleasure, of
gay, young, military sparks, and danglers at toilets. They call on the
rising generation in France to take a sympathy in the adventures and
fortunes, and they endeavour to engage their sensibility on the side of
pedagogues who betray the most awful family trusts, and vitiate their
female pupils. They teach the people that the debauchers of virgins,
almost in the arms of their parents, may be safe inmates in the houses,
and even fit guardians of the honour of those husbands who succeed
legally to the office which the young literators had preoccupied,
without asking leave of law or conscience.

Thus they dispose of all the family relations of parents and children,
husbands and wives. Through this same instructor, by whom they corrupt
the morals, they corrupt the taste. Taste and elegance, though they are
reckoned only among the smaller and secondary morals, yet are of no mean
importance in the regulation of life. A moral taste is not of force to
turn vice into virtue; but it recommends virtue with something like the
blandishments of pleasure; and it infinitely abates the evils of vice.
Rousseau, a writer of great force and vivacity, is totally destitute of
taste in any sense of the word. Your masters, who are his scholars,
conceive that all refinement has an aristocratic character. The last age
had exhausted all its powers in giving a grace and nobleness to our
mutual appetites, and in raising them into a higher class and order than
seemed justly to belong to them. Through Rousseau, your masters are
resolved to destroy these aristocratic prejudices. The passion called
love has so general and powerful an influence; it makes so much of the
entertainment, and indeed so much of the occupation of that part of life
which decides the character for ever, that the mode and the principles
on which it engages the sympathy, and strikes the imagination, become of
the utmost importance to the morals and manners of every society. Your
rulers were well aware of this; and in their system of changing your
manners to accommodate them to their politics, they found nothing so
convenient as Rousseau. Through him they teach men to love after the
fashion of philosophers; that is, they teach to men, to Frenchmen, a
love without gallantry; a love without anything of that fine flower of
youthfulness and gentility, which places it, if not among the virtues,
among the ornaments of life. Instead of this passion, naturally allied
to grace and manners, they infuse into their youth an unfashioned,
indelicate, sour, gloomy, ferocious medly of pedantry and lewdness; of
metaphysical speculations blended with the coarsest sensuality. Such is
the general morality of the passions to be found in their famous
philosopher, in his famous work of philosophic gallantry the "Nouvelle
Eloise." When the fence from the gallantry of preceptors is broken down,
and your families are no longer protected by decent pride, and salutary
domestic prejudice, there is but one step to a frightful corruption. The
rulers in the National Assembly are in good hopes that the females of
the first families in France may become an easy prey to dancing-masters,
fiddlers, pattern-drawers, friseurs, and valets de chambre, and other
active citizens of that description, who having the entry into your
houses, and being half domesticated by their situation, may be blended
with you by regular and irregular relations. By a law they have made
these people their equals. By adopting the sentiments of Rousseau they
have made them your rivals. In this manner these great legislators
complete their plan of levelling, and establish their rights of men on a
sure foundation.

I am certain that the writings of Rousseau lead directly to this kind of
shameful evil. I have often wondered how he comes to be so much more
admired and followed on the continent than he is here. Perhaps a secret
charm in the language may have its share in this extraordinary
difference. We certainly perceive, and to a degree we feel, in this
writer, a style glowing, animated, enthusiastic; at the same time that
we find it lax, diffuse, and not in the best taste of composition; all
the members of the piece being pretty equally laboured and expanded,
without any due selection or subordination of parts. He is generally too
much on the stretch, and his manner has little variety. We cannot rest
upon any of his works, though they contain observations which
occasionally discover a considerable insight into human nature. But his
doctrines, on the whole, are so inapplicable to real life and manners,
that we never dream of drawing from them any rule for laws or conduct,
or for fortifying or illustrating anything by a reference to his
opinions. They have with us the fate of older paradoxes.

"Cum ventum ad VERUM est, SENSUS MORESQUE repugnant,
Atque ipsa utilitas, justi prope mater et aequi."

Perhaps bold speculations are more acceptable because more new to you
than to us, who have been long since satiated with them. We continue, as
in the two last ages, to read, more generally than I believe is now done
on the continent, the authors of sound antiquity. These occupy our
minds. They give us another taste and turn, and will not suffer us to be
more than transiently amused with paradoxical morality. It is not that I
consider this writer as wholly destitute of just notions. Amongst his
irregularities, it must be reckoned that he is sometimes moral, and
moral in a very sublime strain. But the GENERAL SPIRIT AND TENDENCY of
his works is mischievous; and the more mischievous for this mixture: for
perfect depravity of sentiment is not reconcileable with eloquence; and
the mind (though corruptible, not complexionally vicious) would reject,
and throw off with disgust, a lesson of pure and unmixed evil. These
writers make even virtue a pander to vice.

However, I less consider the author than the system of the Assembly in
perverting morality through his means. This I confess makes me nearly
despair of any attempt upon the minds of their followers, through
reason, honour, or conscience. The great object of your tyrants is to
destroy the gentlemen of France; and for that purpose they destroy, to
the best of their power, all the effect of those relations which may
render considerable men powerful or even safe. To destroy that order,
they vitiate the whole community. That no means may exist of
confederating against their tyranny, by the false sympathies of this
"Nouvelle Eloise" they endeavour to subvert those principles of domestic
trust and fidelity, which form the discipline of social life. They
propagate principles by which every servant may think it, if not his
duty, at least his privilege, to betray his master. By these principles,
every considerable father of a family loses the sanctuary of his house.
Debet sua cuique domus esse perfugium tutissimum, says the law, which
your legislators have taken so much pains first to decry, then to
repeal. They destroy all the tranquillity and security of domestic life;
turning the asylum of the house into a gloomy prison, where the father
of the family must drag out a miserable existence, endangered in
proportion to the apparent means of his safety; where he is worse than
solitary in a crowd of domestics, and more apprehensive from his
servants and inmates, than from the hired, bloodthirsty mob without
doors, who are ready to pull him to the lanterne. It is thus, and for
the same end, that they endeavour to destroy that tribunal of conscience
which exists independently of edicts and decrees. Your despots govern by
terror. They know that he who fears God fears nothing else: and
therefore they eradicate from the mind, through their Voltaire, their
Helvetius, and the rest of that infamous gang, that only sort of fear
which generates true courage. Their object is, that their
fellow-citizens may be under the dominion of no awe, but that of their
committee of research, and of their lanterne.

Having found the advantage of assassination in the formation of their
tyranny, it is the grand resource in which they trust for the support of
it. Whoever opposes any of their proceedings, or is suspected of a
design to oppose them, is to answer it with his life, or the lives of
his wife and children. This infamous, cruel, and cowardly practice of
assassination they have the imprudence to call MERCIFUL. They boast that
they operated their usurpation rather by terror than by force; and that
a few seasonable murders have prevented the bloodshed of many battles.
There is no doubt they will extend these acts of mercy whenever they see
an occasion. Dreadful, however, will be the consequences of their
attempt to avoid the evils of war by the merciful policy of murder. If,
by effectual punishment of the guilty, they do not wholly disavow that
practice, and the threat of it too, as any part of their policy; if ever
a foreign prince enters into France, he must enter it as into a country
of assassins. The mode of civilized war will not be practised; nor are
the French who act on the present system entitled to expect it. They,
whose known policy is to assassinate every citizen whom they suspect to
be discontented by their tyranny, and to corrupt the soldiery of every
open enemy, must look for no modified hostility. All war, which is not
battle, will be military execution. This will beget acts of retaliation
from you; and every retaliation will beget a new revenge. The
hell-hounds of war, on all sides, will be uncoupled and unmuzzled. The
new school of murder and barbarism, set up in Paris, having destroyed
(so far as in it lies) all the other manners and principles which have
hitherto civilized Europe, will destroy also the mode of civilized war,
which, more than anything else, has distinguished the Christian world.
Such is the approaching golden age, which the Virgil of your assembly
has sung to his Pollios! (Mirabeau's speech concerning universal peace.)


They take this tenet of the head and heart, not from the great name
which it immediately bears, nor from the greater from whence it is
derived; but from that which alone can give true weight and sanction to
any learned opinion, the common nature and common relation of men.
Persuaded that all things ought to be done with reference, and referring
all to the point of reference to which all should be directed, they
think themselves bound, not only as individuals in the sanctuary of the
heart, or as congregated in that personal capacity, to renew the memory
of their high origin and caste; but also in their corporate character to
perform their national homage to the institutor, and author, and
protector of civil society; without which civil society man could not by
any possibility arrive at the perfection of which his nature is capable,
nor even make a remote and faint approach to it. They conceive that He
who gave our nature to be perfected by our virtue, willed also the
necessary means of its perfection.--He willed therefore the state--He
willed its connection with the source and original archetype of all
perfection. They who are convinced of this his will, what is the law of
laws, and the sovereign of sovereigns, cannot think it reprehensible
that this our corporate fealty and homage, that this our recognition of
a signiory paramount, I had almost said this oblation of the state
itself, as a worthy offering on the high altar of universal praise,
should be performed as all public, solemn acts are performed, in
buildings, in music, in decoration, in speech, in the dignity of
persons, according to the customs of mankind, taught by their nature;
that is, with modest splendour and unassuming state, with mild majesty
and sober pomp. For those purposes they think some part of the wealth of
the country is as usefully employed as it can be, in fomenting the
luxury of individuals. It is the public ornament. It is the public
consolation. It nourishes the public hope. The poorest man finds his own
importance and dignity in it, whilst the wealth and pride of individuals
at every moment makes the man of humble rank and fortune sensible of his
inferiority, and degrades and vilifies his condition. It is for the man
in humble life, and to raise his nature, and to put him in mind of a
state in which the privileges of opulence will cease, when he will be
equal by nature, and may be more than equal by virtue, that this portion
of the general wealth of his country is employed and sanctified.

I assure you I do not aim at singularity. I give you opinions which have
been accepted amongst us, from very early times to this moment, with a
continued and general approbation, and which indeed are so worked into
my mind, that I am unable to distinguish what I have learned from others
from the results of my own meditation.

It is on some such principles that the majority of the people of
England, far from thinking a religious national establishment unlawful,
hardly think it lawful to be without one. In France you are wholly
mistaken if you do not believe us above all other things attached to it,
and beyond all other nations; and when this people has acted unwisely
and unjustifiably in its favour (as in some instances they have done
most certainly) in their very errors you will at least discover their

This principle runs through the whole system of their polity. They do
not consider their church establishment as convenient, but as essential
to their state; not as a thing heterogeneous and inseparable; something
added for accommodation; what they may either keep or lay aside,
according to their temporary ideas of convenience. They consider it as
the foundation of their whole constitution, with which, and with every
part of which, it holds an indissoluble union. Church and state are
ideas inseparable in their minds, and scarcely is the one ever mentioned
without mentioning the other.

(In preparing these pages for publication, the selector has discovered
how unconsciously he was indebted to the intellectual inspiration of
Burke, in the following extract:--

"Founded in Christ, and by Apostles form'd,
Glory of England! oh, my Mother Church,
Hoary with time, but all untouched in creed,
Firm to thy Master, by as fond a grasp
Of faith as Luther, with his free-born mind
Clung to Emmanuel,--doth thy soul remain.
But yet around Thee scowls a fierce array
Of Foes and Falsehoods; must'ring each their powers,
Triumphantly. And well may thoughtful Hearts
Heave with foreboding swell and heavy fears,
To mark, how mad opinion doth infect
Thy children; how thine apostolic claims
And love maternal are regarded now,
By creedless Vanity, or careless Vice.
For time there was, when peerless Hooker wrote,
And deep-soul'd Bacon taught the world to think,
When thou wert paramount,--thy cause sublime!
And in THY life, all Polity and Powers
The throne securing, or in law enshrined,
With all estates our balanced Realm contains,
In thee supreme, a master-virtue own'd
And honour'd. Church and State could then co-work,
Like soul and body in one breathing Form
Distinct, but undivided; each with rule
Essential to the kingdom's healthful frame,
Yet BOTH, in unity august and good
Together, under Christ their living Head,
A hallow'd commonwealth of powers achieved.
But now, in evil times, sectarian Will
Would split the Body, and to sects reduce
Our sainted Mother of th'imperial Isles,
Which have for ages from Her bosom drank
Those truths immortal, Life and Conscience need.
But never may the rude assault of hearts
Self-blinded, or the autocratic pride
Of Reason, by no hallowing faith subdued,

One lock of glory from Her rev'rend head
Succeed in tearing: Love, and Awe, and Truth
Her doctrines preach, with apostolic force:
Her creed is Unity, her head is Christ,
Her Forms primeval, and her Creed divine,
And Catholic, that crowning name she wears."

"Luther," 6th edition 1852.


Instead of the religion and the law by which they were in a great
politic communion with the Christian world, they have constructed their
republic on three bases, all fundamentally opposite to those on which
the communities of Europe are built. Its foundation is laid in regicide,
in jacobinism, and in atheism; and it has joined to those principles a
body of systematic manners, which secures their operation.

If I am asked, how I would be understood in the use of these terms,
regicide, jacobinism, atheism, and a system of corresponding manners,
and their establishment? I will tell you:--


I call a commonwealth REGICIDE, which lays it down as a fixed law of
nature, and a fundamental right of man, that all government, not being a
democracy, is a usurpation. That all kings, as such, are usurpers; and
for being kings may and ought to be put to death, with their wives,
families, and adherents. The commonwealth which acts uniformly upon
those principles, and which, after abolishing every festival of
religion, chooses the most flagrant act of a murderous regicide treason
for a feast of eternal commemoration, and which forces all her people to
observe it--this I call REGICIDE BY ESTABLISHMENT.


Jacobinism is the revolt of the enterprising talents of a country
against its property. When private men form themselves into associations
for the purpose of destroying the pre-existing laws and institutions of
their country; when they secure to themselves an army, by dividing
amongst the people of no property the estates of the ancient and lawful
proprietors; when a state recognises those acts; when it does not make
confiscations for crimes, but makes crimes for confiscations; when it
has its principal strength, and all its resources, in such a violation
of property; when it stands chiefly upon such a violation, massacring by
judgments, or otherwise, those who make any struggle for their old legal
government, and their legal, hereditary, or acquired possessions--I call


I call it ATHEISM BY ESTABLISHMENT, when any state, as such, shall
not acknowledge the existence of God as a moral governor of the
world; when it shall offer to him no religious or moral
worship;--when it shall abolish the Christian religion by a regular
decree;--when it shall persecute with a cold, unrelenting, steady
cruelty, by every mode of confiscation, imprisonment, exile, and
death, all its ministers;--when it shall generally shut up or pull
down churches; when the few buildings which remain of this kind shall
be opened only for the purpose of making a profane apotheosis of
monsters, whose vices and crimes have no parallel amongst men, and
whom all other men consider as objects of general detestation, and
the severest animadversion of law. When, in the place of that
religion of social benevolence, and of individual self-denial, in
mockery of all religion, they institute impious, blasphemous,
indecent theatric rites, in honour of their vitiated, perverted
reason, and erect altars to the personification of their own
corrupted and bloody republic;--when schools and seminaries are
founded at the public expense to poison mankind, from generation to
generation, with the horrible maxims of this impiety;--when wearied
out with incessant martyrdom, and the cries of a people hungering and
thirsting for religion, they permit it only as a tolerated evil--I


When to these establishments of regicide, of jacobinism, and of atheism,
you add the CORRESPONDENT SYSTEM OF MANNERS, no doubt can be left on the
mind of a thinking man concerning their determined hostility to the
human race. Manners are of more importance than laws. Upon them, in a
great measure, the laws depend. The law touches us but here and there,
and now and then. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify,
exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform,
insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in. They give
their whole form and colour to our lives. According to their quality,
they aid morals, they supply them, or they totally destroy them. Of this
the new French legislators were aware; therefore, with the same method,
and under the same authority, they settled a system of manners, the most
licentious, prostitute, and abandoned that ever has been known, and at
the same time the most coarse, rude, savage, and ferocious. Nothing in
the Revolution, no, not to a phrase or gesture, not to the fashion of a
hat or a shoe, was left to accident. All has been the result of design;
all has been matter of institution. No mechanical means could be devised
in favour of this incredible system of wickedness and vice, that has not
been employed. The noblest passions, the love of glory, the love of
country, have been debauched into means of its preservation and its
propagation. All sorts of shows and exhibitions, calculated to inflame
and vitiate the imagination, and pervert the moral sense, have been
contrived. They have sometimes brought forth five or six hundred drunken
women, calling at the bar of the Assembly for the blood of their own
children, as being royalists or constitutionalists. Sometimes they have
got a body of wretches, calling themselves fathers, to demand the murder
of their sons, boasting that Rome had but one Brutus, but that they
could show five hundred. There were instances in which they inverted,
and retaliated the impiety, and produced sons, who called for the
execution of their parents. The foundation of their republic is laid in
moral paradoxes. Their patriotism is always prodigy. All those instances
to be found in history, whether real or fabulous, of a doubtful public
spirit, at which morality is perplexed, reason is staggered, and from
which affrighted nature recoils, are their chosen, and almost sole
examples for the instruction of their youth.

The whole drift of their institution is contrary to that of the wise
legislators of all countries, who aimed at improving instincts into
morals, and at grafting the virtues on the stock of the natural
affections. They, on the contrary, have omitted no pains to eradicate
every benevolent and noble propensity in the mind of men. In their
culture it is a rule always to graft virtues on vices. They think
everything unworthy of the name of public virtue, unless it indicates
violence on the private. All their new institutions (and with them
everything is new) strike at the root of our social nature. Other
legislators, knowing that marriage is the origin of all relations, and
consequently the first element of all duties, have endeavoured, by every
art, to make it sacred. The Christian religion, by confining it to the
pairs, and by rendering that relation indissoluble, has by these two
things done more towards the peace, happiness, settlement, and
civilization of the world, than by any other part in this whole scheme
of Divine Wisdom. The direct contrary course has been taken in the
synagogue of antichrist, I mean in that forge and manufactury of all
evil, the sect which predominated in the Constituent Assembly of 1789.
Those monsters employed the same, or greater industry, to desecrate and
degrade that state, which other legislators have used to render it holy
and honourable.


As to those whom they suffer to die a natural death, they do not
permit them to enjoy the last consolations of mankind, or those
rights of sepulture, which indicate hope, and which mere nature has
taught to mankind, in all countries, to soothe the afflictions, and
to cover the infirmity, of mortal condition. They disgrace men in the
entry into life, they vitiate and enslave them through the whole
course of it, and they deprive them of all comfort at the conclusion
of their dishonoured and depraved existence. Endeavouring to persuade
the people that they are no better than beasts, the whole body of
their institution tends to make them beasts of prey, furious and
savage. For this purpose the active part of them is disciplined into
a ferocity which has no parallel. To this ferocity there is joined
not one of the rude, unfashioned virtues, which accompany the vices,
where the whole are left to grow up together in the rankness of
uncultivated nature. But nothing is left to nature in their systems.

The same discipline which hardens their hearts relaxes their morals.
Whilst courts of justice were thrust out by revolutionary tribunals, and
silent churches were only the funeral monuments of departed religion,
there were no fewer than nineteen or twenty theatres, great and small,
most of them kept open at the public expense, and all of them crowded
every night. Among the gaunt, haggard forms of famine and nakedness,
amidst the yells of murder, the tears of affliction, and the cries of
despair, the song, the dance, the mimic scene, the buffoon laughter,
went on as regularly as in the gay hour of festive peace. I have it from
good authority, that under the scaffold of judicial murder, and the
gaping planks that poured down blood on the spectators, the space was
hired out for a show of dancing dogs. I think, without concert, we have
made the very same remark on reading some of their pieces, which being
written for other purposes, let us into a view of their social life. It
struck us that the habits of Paris had no resemblance to the finished
virtues, or to the polished vice, and elegant, though not blameless,
luxury, of the capital of a great empire. Their society was more like
that of a den of outlaws upon a doubtful frontier; of a lewd tavern for
the revels and debauches of banditti, assassins, bravos, smugglers, and
their more desperate paramours, mixed with bombastic players, the refuse
and rejected offal of strolling theatres, puffing out ill-sorted verses
about virtue, mixed with the licentious and blasphemous songs, proper to
the brutal and hardened course of life belonging to that sort of
wretches. This system of manners in itself is at war with all orderly
and moral society, and is in its neighbourhood unsafe. If great bodies
of that kind were anywhere established in a bordering territory, we
should have a right to demand of their governments the suppression of
such a nuisance.


Should we not obtest Heaven, and whatever justice there is yet on earth?
Oppression makes wise men mad; but the distemper is still the madness of
the wise, which is better than the sobriety of fools. The cry is the
voice of sacred misery, exalted not into wild raving, but into the
sanctified frenzy of prophecy and inspiration--in that bitterness of
soul, in that indignation of suffering virtue, in that exaltation of
despair, would not persecuted English loyalty cry out, with an awful
warning voice, and denounce the destruction that waits on monarchs, who
consider fidelity to them as the most degrading of all vices; who suffer
it to be punished as the most abominable of all crimes; and who have no
respect but for rebels, traitors, regicides, and furious negro slaves,
whose crimes have broken their chains? Would not this warm language of
high indignation have more of sound reason in it, more of real
affection, more of true attachment, than all the lullabies of
flatterers, who would hush monarchs to sleep in the arms of death.


There is one thing in this business which appears to be wholly
unaccountable, or accountable on a supposition I dare not entertain
for a moment. I cannot help asking, Why all this pains, to clear the
British nation of ambition, perfidy, and the insatiate thirst of war?
At what period of time was it that our country has deserved that load
of infamy, of which nothing but preternatural humiliation in language
and conduct can serve to clear us? If we have deserved this kind of
evil fame from anything we have done in a state of prosperity, I am
sure that it is not an abject conduct in adversity than can clear our
reputation. Well is it known that ambition can creep as well as soar.
The pride of no person in a flourishing condition is more justly to
be dreaded, than that of him who is mean and cringing under a
doubtful and unprosperous fortune. But it seems it was thought
necessary to give some out-of-the-way proofs of our sincerity, as
well as of our freedom from ambition. Is then fraud and falsehood
become the distinctive character of Englishmen? Whenever your enemy
chooses to accuse you of perfidy and ill faith, will you put it into
his power to throw you into the purgatory of self-humiliation? Is his
charge equal to the finding of the grand jury of Europe, and
sufficient to put you upon your trial? But on that trial I will
defend the English ministry. I am sorry that on some points I have,
on the principles I have always opposed, so good a defence to make.
(The Editor has ventured to print these lines in italics, because it
appears, while this selection from Burke is preparing for the press,
an inflated demagogue has not only dared to deny the claims of the
duke of Wellington to be the Hero of a nation's heart, but has also
accused the illustrious Burke of misrepresenting historical facts
connected with our war in the French revolution. On which side both
the truth and integrity of history are to be found, may safely be
left to the moral decision of men who do NOT look at History through
the exclusive medium of the market, and in listening to the voice of
instruction are, at least, enabled to distinguish the bray of an ass
from the peal of a trumpet.) Is it not true, that they were the first
to declare war upon this kingdom? Is every word in the declaration
from Downing-Street, concerning their conduct, and concerning ours
and that of our allies, so obviously false, that it is necessary to
give some new-invented proofs of our good faith in order to expunge
the memory of all this perfidy?


A king without authority; nobles without union or subordination; a
people without arts, industry, commerce, or liberty; no order within,
no defence without; no effective public force, but a foreign force,
which entered a naked country at will, and disposed of everything at
pleasure. Here was a state of things which seemed to invite, and
might perhaps justify, bold enterprise and desperate experiment. But
in what manner was this chaos brought into order? The means were as
striking to the imagination, as satisfactory to the reason, and
soothing to the moral sentiments. In contemplating that change,
humanity has everything to rejoice and to glory in; nothing to be
ashamed of, nothing to suffer. So far as it has gone, it probably is
the most pure and defecated public good which ever has been conferred
on mankind. We have seen anarchy and servitude at once removed; a
throne strengthened for the protection of the people, without
trenching on their liberties; all foreign cabal banished, by changing
the crown from elective to hereditary; and what was a matter of
pleasing wonder, we have seen a reigning king, from an heroic love to
his country, exerting himself with all the toil, the dexterity, the
management, the intrigue, in favour of a family of strangers, with
which ambitious men labour for the aggrandizement of their own. Ten
millions of men in a way of being freed gradually, and therefore
safely to themselves and the state, not from civil or political
chains, which, bad as they are, only fetter the mind, but from
substantial personal bondage. Inhabitants of cities, before without
privileges, placed in the consideration which belongs to that
improved and connecting situation of social life. One of the most
proud, numerous, and fierce bodies of nobility and gentry ever known
in the world, arranged only in the foremost rank of free and generous
citizens. Not one man incurred loss, or suffered degradation. All,
from the king to the day-labourer, were improved in their condition.
Everything was kept in its place and order; but in that place and
order everything was betterd. To add to this happy wonder (this
unheard-of conjunction of wisdom and fortune), not one drop of blood
was spilled; no treachery; no outrage; no system of slander more
cruel than the sword; no studied insults on religion, morals, or
manners; no spoil; no confiscation; no citizen beggared; none
imprisoned; none exiled: the whole was effected with a policy, a
discretion, a unanimity and secrecy, such as have never been before
known on any occasion; but such wonderful conduct was reserved for
this glorious conspiracy in favour of the true and genuine rights and
interests of men. Happy people, if they know how to proceed as they
have begun! Happy prince, worthy to begin with splendour, or to close
with glory, a race of patriots and of kings: and to leave

"A name, which ev'ry wind to heav'n would bear,
Which men to speak, and angels joy to hear."

To finish all--this great good, as in the instant it is, contains in it
the seeds of all further improvement, and may be considered as in a
regular progress, because founded on similar principles, towards the
stable excellency of a British constitution.

Here was a matter for congratulation and for festive remembrance through
ages. Here moralists and divines might indeed relax in their temperance,
to exhilarate their humanity. But mark the character of our faction. All
their enthusiasm is kept for the French revolution. They cannot pretend
that France had stood so much in need of a change as Poland. They cannot
pretend that Poland has not obtained a better system of liberty, or of
government, than it enjoyed before. They cannot assert, that the Polish
revolution cost more dearly than that of France to the interests and
feelings of multitudes of men. But the cold and subordinate light in
which they look upon the one, and the pains they take to preach up the
other of these revolutions, leave us no choice in fixing on their
motives. Both revolutions profess liberty as their object; but in
obtaining this object the one proceeds from anarchy to order; the other
from order to anarchy. The first secures its liberty by establishing its
throne; the other builds its freedom on the subversion of its monarchy.
In the one their means are unstained by crimes, and their settlement
favours morality. In the other, vice and confusion are in the very
essence of their pursuit, and of their enjoyment. The circumstances in
which these two events differ, must cause the difference we make in
their comparative estimation. These turn the scale with the societies in
favour of France. Ferrum est quod amant. The frauds, the violences, the
sacrileges, the havoc and ruin of families, the dispersion and exile of
the pride and flower of a great country, the disorder, the confusion,
the anarchy, the violation of property, the cruel murders, the inhuman
confiscations, and in the end the insolent domination of bloody,
ferocious, and senseless clubs--these are the things which they love and
admire. What men admire and love, they would surely act. Let us see what
is done in France; and then let us undervalue any the slightest danger
of falling into the hands of such a merciless and savage faction!


In the long series of ages which have furnished the matter of
history, never was so beautiful and so august a spectacle presented
to the moral eye, as Europe afforded the day before the revolution in
France. I knew indeed that this prosperity contained in itself the
seeds of its own danger. In one part of the society it caused laxity
and debility; in the other it produced bold spirits and dark designs.
A false philosophy passed from academies into courts; and the great
themselves were infected with the theories which conducted to their
ruin. Knowledge, which in the two last centuries either did not exist
at all, or existed solidly on right principles and in chosen hands,
was now diffused, weakened, and perverted. General wealth loosened
morals, relaxed vigilance, and increased presumption. Men of talent
began to compare, in the partition of the common stock of public
prosperity, the proportions of the dividends with the merits of the
claimants. As usual, they found their portion not equal to their
estimate (or perhaps to the public estimate) of their own worth. When
it was once discovered by the revolution in France, that a struggle
between establishment and rapacity could be maintained, though but
for one year, and in one place, I was sure that a practicable breach
was made in the whole order of things and in every country. Religion,
that held the materials of the fabric together, was first
systematically loosened. All other opinions, under the name of
prejudices, must fall along with it; and property, left undefended by
principles, became a repository of spoils to tempt cupidity, and not
a magazine to furnish arms for defence. I knew that, attacked on all
sides by the infernal energies of talents set in action by vice and
disorder, authority could not stand upon authority alone. It wanted
some other support than the poise of its own gravity. Situations
formerly supported persons. It now became necessary that personal
qualities should support situations. Formerly, where authority was
found, wisdom and virtue were presumed. But now the veil was torn,
and, to keep off sacrilegious intrusion, it was necessary that in the
sanctuary of government something should be disclosed not only
venerable, but dreadful. Government was at once to show itself full
of virtue and full of force. It was to invite partisans, by making it
appear to the world that a generous cause was to be asserted; one fit
for a generous people to engage in. From passive submission was it to
expect resolute defence? No! It must have warm advocates and
passionate defenders, which a heavy, discontented acquiescence never
could produce. What a base and foolish thing is it for any
consolidated body of authority to say, or to act as if it said, "I
will put my trust not in my own virtue, but in your patience; I will
indulge in effeminacy, in indolence, in corruption; I will give way
to all my perverse and vicious humours, because you cannot punish me
without the hazard of ruining yourselves?"


Disappointment and mortification undoubtedly they feel; but to them,
repentance is a thing impossible. They are atheists. This wretched
opinion, by which they are possessed even to the height of fanaticism,
leading them to exclude from their ideas of a commonwealth the vital
principle of the physical, the moral, and the political world, engages
them in a thousand absurd contrivances to fill up this dreadful void.
Incapable of innoxious repose, or honourable action, or wise
speculation, in the lurking-holes of a foreign land, into which (in a
common ruin) they are driven to hide their heads amongst the innocent
victims of their madness, they are at this very hour as busy in the
confection of the dirt-pies of their imaginary constitutions, as if they
had not been quite fresh from destroying, by their impious and desperate
vagaries, the finest country upon earth.


The English people are satisfied, that to the great the consolations
of religion are as necessary as its instructions. They too are among
the unhappy. They feel personal pain, and domestic sorrow. In these
they have no privilege, but are subject to pay their full contingent
to the contributions levied on mortality. They want this sovereign
balm under their gnawing cares and anxieties, which, being less
conversant about the limited wants of animal life, range without
limit, and are diversified by infinite combinations in the wild and
unbounded regions of imagination. Some charitable dole is wanting to
these, our often very unhappy brethren, to fill the gloomy void that
reigns in minds which have nothing on earth to hope or fear;
something to relieve in the killing languor and over-laboured
lassitude of those who have nothing to do; something to excite an
appetite to existence in the palled satiety which attends on all
pleasures which may be bought, where nature is not left to her own
process, where even desire is anticipated, and therefore fruition
defeated by meditated schemes and contrivances of delight; and no
interval, no obstacle, is interposed between the wish and the

The people of England know how little influence the teachers of religion
are likely to have with the wealthy and powerful of long standing, and
how much less with the newly fortunate, if they appear in a manner no
way assorted to those with whom they must associate, and over whom they
must even exercise, in some cases, something like an authority. What
must they think of that body of teachers, if they see it in no part
above the establishment of their domestic servants? If the poverty were
voluntary, there might be some difference. Strong instances of
self-denial operate powerfully on our minds; and a man who has no wants
has obtained great freedom, and firmness, and even dignity. But as the
mass of any description of men are but men, and their poverty cannot be
voluntary, that disrespect, which attends upon all lay property, will
not depart from the ecclesiastical. Our provident constitution has
therefore taken care that those who are to instruct presumptuous
ignorance, those who are to be censors over insolent vice, should
neither incur their contempt, nor live upon their alms; nor will it
tempt the rich to a neglect of the true medicine of their minds. For
these reasons, whilst we provide first for the poor, and with a parental
solicitude, we have not relegated religion (like something we were
ashamed to show) to obscure municipalities, or rustic villages. No! We
will have her to exalt her mitred front in courts and parliaments. We
will have her mixed throughout the whole mass of life, and blended with
all the classes of society. The people of England will show to the
haughty potentates of the world, and to their talking sophisters, that a
free, a generous, an informed nation honours the high magistrates of its
church; that it will not suffer the insolence of wealth and titles, or
any other species of proud pretension, to look down with scorn upon what
they look up to with reverence; nor presume to trample on that acquired
personal nobility, which they intend always to be, and which often is,
the fruit, not the reward (for what can be the reward), of learning,
piety, and virtue. They can see, without pain or grudging, an archbishop
precede a duke. They can see a bishop of Durham, or a bishop of
Winchester, in possession of ten thousand pounds a year; and cannot
conceive why it is in worse hands than estates to the like amount in the
hands of this earl, or that squire; although it may be true, that so
many dogs and horses are not kept by the former, and fed with the
victuals which ought to nourish the children of the people. It is true,
the whole church revenue is not always employed, and to every shilling,
in charity; nor perhaps ought it; but something is generally so
employed. It is better to cherish virtue and humanity by leaving much to
free will, even with some loss to the object, than to attempt to make
men mere machines and instruments of a political benevolence. The world
on the whole will gain by a liberty, without which virtue cannot exist.

When once the commonwealth has established the estates of the church as
property, it can, consistently, hear nothing of the more or the less.
Too much and too little are treason against property. What evil can
arise from the quantity in any hand, whilst the supreme authority has
the full, sovereign superintendence over this, as over any property, to
prevent every species of abuse; and, whenever it notably deviates, to
give to it a direction agreeable to the purposes of its institution. In
England most of us conceive that it is envy and malignity towards those
who are often the beginners of their own fortune, and not a love of the
self-denial and mortification of the ancient church, that makes some
look askance at the distinctions, and honours, and revenues, which,
taken from no person, are set apart for virtue. The ears of the people
of England are distinguishing. They hear these men speak broad. Their
tongue betrays them. Their language is in the patois of fraud; in the
cant and gibberish of hypocrisy. The people of England must think so,
when these praters affect to carry back the clergy to that primitive,
evangelic poverty, which, in the spirit, ought always to exist in them
(and in us too, however we may like it), but in the thing must be
varied, when the relation of that body to the state is altered; when
manners, when modes of life, when indeed the whole order of human
affairs, has undergone a total revolution. We shall believe those
reformers then to be honest enthusiasts, not, as now we think them,
cheats and deceivers, when we see them throwing their own goods into
common, and submitting their own persons to the austere discipline of
the early church.


It is not worth our while to discuss, like sophisters, whether, in no
case, some evil, for the sake of some benefit, is to be tolerated.
Nothing universal can be rationally affirmed on any moral or any
political subject. Pure metaphysical abstraction does not belong to
these matters. The lines of morality are not like ideal lines of
mathematics. They are broad and deep as well as long. They admit of
exceptions; they demand modifications. These exceptions and
modifications are not made by the process of logic, but by the rules of
prudence. Prudence is not only the first in rank of the virtues
political and moral, but she is the director, the regulator, the
standard of them all. Metaphysics cannot live without definition; but
prudence is cautious how she defines. Our courts cannot be more fearful
in suffering fictitious cases to be brought before them for eliciting
their determination on a point of law, than prudent moralists are in
putting extreme and hazardous cases of conscience upon emergencies not
existing. Without attempting therefore to define, what never can be
defined, the case of a revolution in government, this, I think, may be
safely affirmed, that a sore and pressing evil is to be removed, and
that a good, great in its amount, and unequivocal in its nature, must be
probable almost to certainty, before the inestimable price of our own
morals, and the well-being of a number of our fellow-citizens, is paid
for a revolution. If ever we ought to be economists even to parsimony,
it is in the voluntary production of evil. Every revolution contains in
it something of evil.


The quality of the sentence does not however decide on the justice of
it. Angry friendship is sometimes as bad as calm enmity. For this reason
the cold neutrality of abstract justice is, to a good and clear cause, a
more desirable thing than an affection liable to be any way disturbed.
When the trial is by friends, if the decision should happen to be
favourable, the honour of the acquittal is lessened; if adverse, the
condemnation is exceedingly embittered. It is aggravated by coming from
lips professing friendship, and pronouncing judgment with sorrow and
reluctance. Taking in the whole view of life, it is more safe to live
under the jurisdiction of severe but steady reason, than under the
empire of indulgent but capricious passion. It is certainly well for Mr.
Burke that there are impartial men in the world. To them I address
myself, pending the appeal which on his part is made from the living to
the dead, from the modern Whigs to the ancient.


The unhappy Louis XVI. was a man of the best intentions that probably
ever reigned. He was by no means deficient in talents. He had a most
laudable desire to supply by general reading, and even by the
acquisition of elemental knowledge, an education in all points
originally defective; but nobody told him (and it was no wonder he
should not himself divine it) that the world of which he read, and
the world in which he lived, were no longer the same. Desirous of
doing everything for the best, fearful of cabal, distrusting his own
judgment, he sought his ministers of all kinds upon public testimony.
But as courts are the field for caballers, the public is the theatre
for mountebanks and imposters. The cure for both those evils is in
the discernment of the prince. But an accurate and penetrating
discernment is what in a young prince could not be looked for.

His conduct in its principle was not unwise; but, like most other of his
well-meant designs, it failed in his hands. It failed partly from mere
ill fortune, to which speculators are rarely pleased to assign that very
large share to which she is justly entitled in human affairs. The
failure, perhaps, in part was owing to his suffering his system to be
vitiated and disturbed by those intrigues, which it is, humanly
speaking, impossible wholly to prevent in courts, or indeed under any
form of government. However, with these aberrations, he gave himself
over to a succession of the statesmen of public opinion. In other things
he thought that he might be a king on the terms of his predecessors. He
was conscious of the purity of his heart, and the general good tendency
of his government. He flattered himself, as most men in his situation
will, that he might consult his ease without danger to his safety. It is
not at all wonderful that both he and his ministers, giving way
abundantly in other respects to innovation, should take up in policy
with the tradition of their monarchy. Under his ancestors the monarchy
had subsisted, and even been strengthened, by the generation or support
of republics. First, the Swiss republics grew under the guardianship of
the French monarchy. The Dutch republics were hatched and cherished
under the same incubation. Afterwards, a republican constitution was,
under the influence of France, established in the empire against the
pretensions of its chief. Even whilst the monarchy of France, by a
series of wars and negociations, and lastly, by the treaties of
Westphalia, had obtained the establishment of the Protestants in Germany
as a law of the empire, the same monarchy under Louis the Thirteenth,
had force enough to destroy the republican system of the Protestants at
home. Louis the Sixteenth was a diligent reader of history. But the very
lamp of prudence blinded him. The guide of human life led him astray. A
silent revolution in the moral world preceded the political, and
prepared it. It became of more importance than ever what examples were
given, and what measures were adopted. Their causes no longer lurked in
the recesses of cabinets, or in the private conspiracies of the
factious. They were no longer to be controlled by the force and
influence of the grandees, who formerly had been able to stir up
troubles by their discontents, and to quiet them by their corruption.
The chain of subordination, even in cabal and sedition, was broken in
its most important links. It was no longer the great and the populace.
Other interests were formed, other dependencies, other connections,
other communications. The middle classes had swelled far beyond their
former proportion. Like whatever is the most effectively rich and great
in society, these classes became the seat of all the active politics;
and the preponderating weight to decide on them. There were all the
energies by which fortune is acquired; there the consequence of their
success. There were all the talents which assert their pretensions, and
are impatient of the place which settled society prescribes to them.
These descriptions had got between the great and the populace; and the
influence on the lower classes was with them. The spirit of ambition had
taken possession of this class as violent as ever it had done of any
other. They felt the importance of this situation. The correspondence of
the monied and the mercantile world, the literary intercourse of
academies, but, above all, the press, of which they had in a manner
entire possession, made a kind of electric communication everywhere. The
press in reality has made every government, in its spirit, almost
democratic. Without it the great, the first movements in this Revolution
could not, perhaps, have been given. But the spirit of ambition, now for
the first time connected with the spirit of speculation, was not to be
restrained at will. There was no longer any means of arresting a
principle in its course. When Louis the Sixteenth, under the influence
of the enemies to monarchy, meant to found but one republic, he set up
two. When he meant to take away half the crown of his neighbour, he lost
the whole of his own. Louis the Sixteenth could not with impunity
countenance a new republic: yet between his throne and that dangerous
lodgment for an enemy, which he had erected, he had the whole Atlantic
for a ditch. He had for an outwork the English nation itself, friendly
to liberty, adverse to that mode of it. He was surrounded by a rampart
of monarchies, most of them allied to him, and generally under his
influence. Yet even thus secured, a republic erected under his auspices,
and dependent on his power, became fatal to his throne. The very money
which he had lent to support this republic, by a good faith, which to
him operated as perfidy, was punctually paid to his enemies, and became
a resource in the hands of his assassins.


If mere dissent from the church of Rome be a merit, he that dissents the
most perfectly is the most meritorious. In many points we hold strongly
with that church. He that dissents throughout with that church will
dissent with the church of England, and then it will be a part of his
merit that he dissents with ourselves:--a whimsical species of merit for
any set of men to establish. We quarrel to extremity with those who we
know agree with us in many things, but we are to be so malicious even in
the principle of our friendships, that we are to cherish in our bosom
those who accord with us in nothing, because whilst they despise
ourselves, they abhor, even more than we do, those with whom we have
some disagreement. A man is certainly the most perfect Protestant who
protests against the whole Christian religion. Whether a person's having
no Christian religion be a title to favour, in exclusion to the largest
description of Christians who hold all the doctrines of Christianity,
though holding along with them some errors and some superfluities, is
rather more than any man, who has not become recreant and apostate from
his baptism, will, I believe, choose to affirm. The countenance given
from a spirit of controversy to that negative religion may, by degrees,
encourage light and unthinking people to a total indifference to
everything positive in matters of doctrine; and, in the end, of practice
too. If continued, it would play the game of that sort of active,
proselytizing, and persecuting atheism, which is the disgrace and
calamity of our time, and which we see to be as capable of subverting a
government, as any mode can be of misguided zeal for better things.


To those who do not love to contemplate the fall of human greatness,
I do not know a more mortifying spectacle, than to see the assembled
majesty of the crowned heads of Europe waiting as patient suitors in
the antechamber of regicide. They wait, it seems, until the
sanguinary tyrant Carnot shall have snorted away the fumes of the
indigested blood of his sovereign. Then, when, sunk on the down of
usurped pomp, he shall have sufficiently indulged his meditations
with what monarch he shall next glut his ravening maw, he may
condescend to signify that it is his pleasure to be awake; and that
he is at leisure to receive the proposals of his high and mighty
clients for the terms on which he may respite the execution of the
sentence he has passed upon them. At the opening of those doors, what
a sight it must be to behold the plenipotentiaries of royal
impotence, in the precedency which they will intrigue to obtain, and
which will be granted to them according to the seniority of their
degradation, sneaking into the regicide presence, and with the relics
of the smile, which they had dressed up for the levee of their
masters, still flickering on their curled lips, presenting the faded
remains of their courtly graces, to meet the scornful, ferocious,
sardonic grin of a bloody ruffian, who, whilst he is receiving their
homage, is measuring them with his eye, and fitting to their size the
slider of his guillotine! These ambassadors may easily return as good
courtiers as they went; but can they ever return from that degrading
residence, loyal and faithful subjects; or with any true affection to
their master, or true attachment to the constitution, religion, or
laws of their country? There is great danger that they, who enter
smiling into this Trophonian cave, will come out of it sad and
serious conspirators; and such will continue as long as they live.
They will become true conductors of contagion to every country which
has had the misfortune to send them to the source of that
electricity. At best they will become totally indifferent to good and
evil, to one institution or another. This species of indifference is
but too generally distinguishable in those who have been much
employed in foreign courts; but in the present case the evil must be
aggravated without measure; for they go from their country, not with
the pride of the old character, but in a state of the lowest
degradation, and what must happen in their place of residence can
have no effect in raising them to the level of true dignity, or of
chaste self-estimation, either as men, or as representatives of
crowned heads.


As if war was a matter of experiment! As if you could take it up or lay
it down as an idle frolic! As if the dire goddess that presides over it,
with her murderous spear in hand, and her gorgon at her breast, was a
coquette to be flirted with! We ought with reverence to approach that
tremendous divinity, that loves courage, but commands counsel. War never
leaves where it found a nation. It is never to be entered into without
mature deliberation; not a deliberation lengthened out into a perplexing
indecision, but a deliberation leading to a sure and fixed judgment.
When so taken up, it is not to be abandoned without reason as valid, as
fully, and as extensively considered. Peace may be made as unadvisedly
as war. Nothing is so rash as fear; and the councils of pusillanimity
very rarely put off, whilst they are always sure to aggravate, the evils
from which they would fly.


There is no want of officers, that I have ever understood, for the new
ships which we commission, or the new regiments which we raise. In the
nature of things it is not with their persons, that the higher classes
principally pay their contingent to the demands of war. There is
another, and not less important part, which rests with almost exclusive
weight upon them. They furnish the means,

"How war may best upheld
Move by her two main nerves, iron and gold,
In all her equipage."

Not that they are exempt from contributing also by their personal
service in the fleets and armies of their country. They do contribute,
and in their full and fair proportion, according to the relative
proportion of their numbers in the community. They contribute all the
mind that actuates the whole machine. The fortitude required of them is
very different from the unthinking alacrity of the common soldier, or
common sailor, in the face of danger and death; it is not a passion, it
is not an impulse, it is not a sentiment; it is a cool, steady,
deliberate principle, always present, always equable; having no
connection with anger; tempering honour with prudence; incited,
invigorated, and sustained, by a generous love of fame; informed,
moderated, and directed by an enlarged knowledge of its own great public
ends; flowing in one blended stream from the opposite sources of the
heart and the head; carrying in itself its own commission, and proving
its title to every other command, by the first and most difficult
command, that of the bosom in which it resides: it is a fortitude, which
unites with the courage of the field the more exalted and refined
courage of the council; which knows as well to retreat, as to advance;
which can conquer as well by delay, as by the rapidity of a march, or
the impetuosity of an attack; which can be, with Fabius, the black cloud
that lowers on the tops of the mountains, or with Scipio, the
thunderbolt of war; which, undismayed by false shame, can patiently
endure the severest trial that a gallant spirit can undergo, in the
taunts and provocations of the enemy, the suspicions, the cold respect,
and "mouth-honour" of those, from whom it should meet a cheerful
obedience; which, undisturbed by false humanity, can calmly assume that
most awful moral responsibility of deciding, when victory may be too
dearly purchased by the loss of a single life, and when the safety and
glory of their country may demand the certain sacrifice of thousands.
Different stations of command may call for different modifications of
this fortitude; but the character ought to be the same in all. And
never, in the most "palmy state" of our martial renown, did it shine
with brighter lustre than in the present sanguinary and ferocious
hostilities, wherever the British arms have been carried.


It happens frequently that pride may reject a public advance, while
interest listens to a secret suggestion of advantage. The opportunity
has been afforded. At a very early period in the diplomacy of
humiliation, a gentleman was sent on an errand, of which, from the
motive of it, whatever the event might be, we can never be ashamed.
Humanity cannot be degraded by humiliation. It is its very character to
submit to such things. There is a consanguinity between benevolence and
humility. They are virtues of the same stock. Dignity is of as good a
race; but it belongs to the family of fortitude. In the spirit of that
benevolence we sent a gentleman to beseech the Directory of regicide not
to be quite so prodigal as their republic had been of judicial murder.
We solicited them to spare the lives of some unhappy persons of the
first distinction, whose safety at other times could not have been an
object of solicitation. They had quitted France on the faith of the
declaration of the rights of citizens. They never had been in the
service of the regicides, nor at their hands had received any stipend.
The very system and constitution of government that now prevails was
settled subsequently to their emigration. They were under the protection
of Great Britain, and in his majesty's pay and service. Not an hostile
invasion, but the disasters of the sea, had thrown them upon a shore
more barbarous and inhospitable than the inclement ocean under the most
pitiless of its storms. Here was an opportunity to express a feeling for
the miseries of war; and to open some sort of conversation, which (after
our public overtures had glutted their pride), at a cautious and jealous
distance, might lead to something like an accommodation. What was the
event? A strange uncouth thing, a theatrical figure of the opera, his
head shaded with three-coloured plumes, his body fantastically habited,
strutted from the back scenes, and, after a short speech, in the mock
heroic falsetto of stupid tragedy, delivered the gentleman who came to
make the representation into the custody of a guard, with directions not
to lose sight of him for a moment; and then ordered him to be sent from
Paris in two hours.


We have a vast interest to preserve, and we possess great means of
preserving it: but it is to be remembered that the artificer may be
encumbered by his tools, and that resources may be among impediments.
If wealth is the obedient and laborious slave of virtue and of public
honour, then wealth is in its place, and has its use: but if this
order is changed, and honour is to be sacrificed to the conservation
of riches,--riches, which have neither eyes nor hands, nor anything
truly vital in them, cannot long survive the being of their vivifying
powers, their legitimate masters, and their potent protectors. If we
command our wealth, we shall be rich and free: if our wealth command
us, we are poor indeed. We are bought by the enemy with the treasure
from our own coffers. Too great a sense of the value of a subordinate
interest may be the very source of its danger, as well as the certain
ruin of interests of a superior order. Often has a man lost his all
because he would not submit to hazard all in defending it. A display
of our wealth before robbers is not the way to restrain their
boldness, or to lessen their rapacity. This display is made, I know,
to persuade the people of England that thereby we shall awe the
enemy, and improve the terms of our capitulation: it is made, not
that we should fight with more animation, but that we should
supplicate with better hopes. We are mistaken. We have an enemy to
deal with who never regarded our contest as a measuring and weighing
of purses. He is the Gaul that puts his SWORD into the scale. He is
more tempted with our wealth as booty, than terrified with it as
power. But let us be rich or poor, let us be either in what
proportion we may, nature is false or this is true, that where the
essential public force (of which money is but a part) is in any
degree upon a par in a conflict between nations, that state, which is
resolved to hazard its existence rather than to abandon its objects,
must have an infinite advantage over that which is resolved to yield
rather than to carry its resistance beyond a certain point. Humanly
speaking, that people which bounds its efforts only with its being,
must give the law to that nation which will not push its opposition
beyond its convenience.


On this their gaudy day the new regicide Directory sent for their
diplomatic rabble, as bad as themselves in principle, but infinitely
worse in degradation. They called them out by a sort of roll of their
nations, one after another, much in the manner in which they called
wretches out of their prison to the guillotine. When these ambassadors
of infamy appeared before them, the chief director, in the name of the
rest, treated each of them with a short, affected, pedantic, insolent,
theatric laconium: a sort of epigram of contempt. When they had thus
insulted them in a style and language which never before was heard, and
which no sovereign would for a moment endure from another, supposing any
of them frantic enough to use it; to finish their outrage, they drummed
and trumpeted the wretches out of their hall of audience.

Among the objects of this insolent buffoonery was a person supposed to
represent the king of Prussia. To this worthy representative they did
not so much as condescend to mention his master; they did not seem to
know that he had one; they addressed themselves solely to Prussia in the
abstract, notwithstanding the infinite obligation they owed to their
early protector for their first recognition and alliance, and for the
part of his territory he gave into their hands for the first-fruits of
his homage. None but dead monarchs are so much as mentioned by them, and
those only to insult the living by an invidious comparison. They told
the Prussians they ought to learn, after the example of Frederick the
Great, a love for France. What a pity it is, that he, who loved France
so well as to chastise it, was not now alive, by an unsparing use of the
rod (which indeed he would have spared little) to give them another
instance of his paternal affection. But the Directory were mistaken.
These are not days in which monarchs value themselves upon the title of
GREAT: they are grown PHILOSOPHIC: they are satisfied to be good. Your
lordship will pardon me for this no very long reflection on the short
but excellent speech of the plumed director to the ambassador of
Cappadocia. The imperial ambassador was not in waiting, but they found
for Austria a good Judean representation. With great judgment his
highness the Grand Duke had sent the most atheistic coxcomb to be found
in Florence to represent, at the bar of impiety, the house of apostolic
majesty, and the descendants of the pious, though high-minded, Maria
Theresa. He was sent to humble the whole race of Austria before those
grim assassins, reeking with the blood of the daughter of Maria Theresa,
whom they sent, half-dead, in a dung-cart, to a cruel execution; and
this true-born son of apostasy and infidelity, this renegado from the
faith, and from all honour and all humanity, drove an Austrian coach
over the stones which were yet wet with her blood;--with that blood
which dropped every step through her tumbril, all the way she was drawn
from the horrid prison, in which they had finished all the cruelty and
horrors, not executed in the face of the sun! The Hungarian subjects of
Maria Theresa, when they drew their swords to defend her rights against
France, called her, with correctness of truth, though not with the same
correctness, perhaps, of grammar, a king: Moriamur pro rege nostro Maria
Theresa.--She lived and died a king, and others will have subjects ready
to make the same vow, when, in either sex, they show themselves real


When you choose an arduous and slippery path, God forbid that any weak
feelings of my declining age, which calls for soothings and supports,
and which can have none but from you, should make me wish that you
should abandon what you are about, or should trifle with it. In this
house we submit, though with troubled minds, to that order which has
connected all great duties with toils and with perils, which has
conducted the road to glory through the regions of obloquy and reproach,
and which will never suffer the disparaging alliance of spurious, false,
and fugitive praise with genuine and permanent reputation. We know that
the Power which has settled that order, and subjected you to it by
placing you in the situation you are in, is able to bring you out of it
with credit and with safety. His will be done. All must come right. You
may open the way with pain, and under reproach. Others will pursue it
with ease and with applause.


They have murdered one Robespierre. This Robespierre they tell us
was a cruel tyrant, and now that he is put out of the way, all will
go well in France. Astraea will again return to that earth from which
she has been an emigrant, and all nations will resort to her golden
scales. It is very extraordinary, that the very instant the mode of
Paris is known here, it becomes all the fashion in London. This is
their jargon. It is the old bon ton of robbers, who cast their common
crimes on the wickedness of their departed associates. I care little
about the memory of this same Robespierre. I am sure he was an
execrable villain. I rejoiced at his punishment neither more nor less
than I should at the execution of the present Directory, or any of
its members. But who gave Robespierre the power of being a tyrant?
and who were the instruments of his tyranny? The present virtuous
constitution-mongers. He was a tyrant, they were his satellites and
his hangmen. Their sole merit is in the murder of their colleague.
They have expiated their other murders by a new murder. It has always
been the case among this banditti. They have always had the knife at
each other's throats, after they had almost blunted it at the throats
of every honest man. These people thought that, in the commerce of
murder, he was like to have the better of the bargain if any time was
lost; they therefore took one of their short revolutionary methods,
and massacred him in a manner so perfidious and cruel, as would shock
all humanity, if the stroke was not struck by the present rulers on
one of their own associates. But this last act of infidelity and
murder is to expiate all the rest, and to qualify them for the amity
of a humane and virtuous sovereign and civilized people. I have heard
that a Tartar believes, when he has killed a man, that all his
estimable qualities pass with his clothes and arms to the murderer:
but I have never heard that it was the opinion of any savage
Scythian, that, if he kills a brother villain, he is, ipso facto,
absolved of all his own offences. The Tartarian doctrine is the most
tenable opinion. The murderers of Robespierre, besides what they are
entitled to by being engaged in the same tontine of infamy, are his
representatives, have inherited all his murderous qualities in
addition to their own private stock. But it seems we are always to be
of a party with the last and victorious assassins. I confess I am of
a different mind, and am rather inclined, of the two, to think and
speak less hardly of a dead ruffian, than to associate with the
living. I could better bear the stench of the gibbeted murderer than
the society of the bloody felons who yet annoy the world. Whilst they
wait the recompense due to their ancient crimes, they merit new
punishment by the new offences they commit. There is a period to the
offences of Robespierre. They survive in his assassins. Better a
living dog, says the old proverb, than a dead lion; not so here.
Murderers and hogs never look well till they are hanged. From villany
no good can arise, but in the example of its fate. So I leave them
their dead Robespierre, either to gibbet his memory, or to deify him
in their Pantheon with their Marat and their Mirabeau.


There must be some impulse besides public spirit to put private interest
into motion along with it. Monied men ought to be allowed to set a value
on their money; if they did not, there could be no monied men. This
desire of accumulation is a principle without which the means of their
service to the state could not exist. The love of lucre, though
sometimes carried to a ridiculous, sometimes to a vicious excess, is the
grand cause of prosperity to all states. In this natural, this
reasonable, this powerful, this prolific principle, it is for the
satirist to expose the ridiculous: it is for the moralist to censure the
vicious; it is for the sympathetic heart to reprobate the hard and
cruel; it is for the judge to animadvert on the fraud, the extortion,
and the oppression; but it is for the statesman to employ it as he finds
it, with all its concomitant excellencies, with all its imperfections on
its head. It is his part, in this case, as it is in all other cases
where he is to make use of the general energies of nature, to take them
as he finds them.


With all these causes of corruption, we may well judge what the general
fashion of mind will be through both sexes and all conditions. Such
spectacles and such examples will overbear all the laws that ever
blackened the cumbrous volumes of our statutes. When royalty shall have
disavowed itself; when it shall have relaxed all the principles of its
own support; when it has rendered the system of regicide fashionable,
and received it as triumphant in the very persons who have consolidated
that system by the perpetration of every crime; who have not only
massacred the prince, but the very laws and magistrates which were the
support of royalty, and slaughtered, with an indiscriminate
proscription, without regard to either sex or age, every person that was
suspected of an inclination to king, law, or magistracy,--I say, will
any one dare to be loyal? Will any one presume, against both authority
and opinion, to hold up this unfashionable, antiquated, exploded
constitution? The Jacobin faction in England must grow in strength and
audacity; it will be supported by other intrigues, and supplied by other
resources than yet we have seen in action. Confounded at its growth, the
government may fly to parliament for its support. But who will answer
for the temper of a house of commons elected under these circumstances?
Who will answer for the courage of a house of commons to arm the crown
with the extraordinary powers that it may demand? But the ministers will
not venture to ask half of what they know they want. They will lose half
of that half in the contest: and when they have obtained their nothing,
they will be driven by the cries of faction either to demolish the
feeble works they have thrown up in a hurry, or, in effect, to abandon
them. As to the House of Lords, it is not worth mentioning. The peers
ought naturally to be the pillars of the crown; but when their titles
are rendered contemptible, and their property invidious, and a part of
their weakness, and not of their strength, they will be found so many
degraded and trembling individuals, who will seek by evasion to put off
the evil day of their ruin. Both houses will be in perpetual oscillation
between abortive attempts at energy, and still more unsuccessful
attempts at compromise. You will be impatient of your disease, and
abhorrent of your remedy. A spirit of subterfuge and a tone of apology
will enter into all your proceedings, whether of law or legislation.
Your judges, who now sustain so masculine an authority, will appear more
on their trial than the culprits they have before them. The awful frown
of criminal justice will be smoothed into the silly smile of seduction.
Judges will think to insinuate and soothe the accused into conviction
and condemnation, and to wheedle to the gallows the most artful of all
delinquents. But they will not be so wheedled. They will not submit even
to the appearance of persons on their trial. Their claim to this
exception will be admitted. The place in which some of the greatest
names which ever distinguished the history of this country have stood,
will appear beneath their dignity. The criminal will climb from the dock
to the side-bar, and take his place and his tea with the counsel. From
the bar of the counsel, by a natural progress, he will ascend to the
bench, which long before had been virtually abandoned. They who escape
from justice will not suffer a question upon reputation. They will take
the crown of the causeway: they will be revered as martyrs; they will
triumph as conquerors. Nobody will dare to censure that popular part of
the tribunal, whose only restraint on misjudgment is the censure of the
public. They who find fault with the decision will be represented as
enemies to the institution. Juries that convict for the crown will be
loaded with obloquy. The juries who acquit will be held up as models of
justice. If parliament orders a prosecution, and fails (as fail it
will), it will be treated to its face as guilty of a conspiracy
maliciously to prosecute. Its care in discovering a conspiracy against
the state will be treated as a forged plot to destroy the liberty of the
subject; every such discovery, instead of strengthening government, will
weaken its reputation.

In this state things will be suffered to proceed, lest measures of
vigour should precipitate a crisis. The timid will act thus from
character; the wise from necessity. Our laws had done all that the old
condition of things dictated to render our judges erect and independent;
but they will naturally fail on the side upon which they had taken no
precautions. The judicial magistrates will find themselves safe as
against the crown, whose will is not their tenure; the power of
executing their office will be held at the pleasure of those who deal
out fame or abuse as they think fit. They will begin rather to consult
their own repose and their own popularity, than the critical and
perilous trust that is in their hands. They will speculate on
consequences when they see at court an ambassador whose robes are lined
with a scarlet dyed in the blood of judges. It is no wonder, nor are
they to blame, when they are to consider how they shall answer for their
conduct to the criminal of to?day turned into the magistrate of


Is it only an oppressive nightmare with which we have been loaded? Is it
then all a frightful dream, and are there no regicides in the world?
Have we not heard of that prodigy of a ruffian, who would not suffer his
benignant sovereign, with his hands tied behind him, and stripped for
execution, to say one parting word to his deluded people;--of Santerre,
who commanded the drums and trumpets to strike up to stifle his voice,
and dragged him backward to the machine of murder? This nefarious
villain (for a few days I may call him so) stands high in France, as in
a republic of robbers and murderers he ought. What hinders this monster
from being sent as ambassador to convey to his majesty the first
compliments of his brethren, the regicide Directory? They have none that
can represent them more properly. I anticipate the day of his arrival.
He will make his public entry into London on one of the pale horses of
his brewery. As he knows that we are pleased with the Paris taste for
the orders of knighthood, he will fling a bloody sash across his
shoulders with the order of the Holy Guillotine, surmounting the Crown,
appendant to the riband. Thus adorned, he will proceed from Whitechapel
to the further end of Pall Mall, all the music of London playing the
Marseillais hymn before him, and escorted by a chosen detachment of the
Legion de l'Echaffaud. It were only to be wished, that no ill-fated
loyalist for the imprudence of his zeal may stand in the pillory at
Charing Cross, under the statue of King Charles the First, at the time
of this grand procession, lest some of the rotten eggs, which the
constitutional society shall let fly at his indiscreet head, may hit the
virtuous murderer of his king. They might soil the state dress, which
the ministers of so many crowned heads have admired, and in which Sir
Clement Cotterel is to introduce him at St. James's.

If Santerre cannot be spared from the constitutional butcheries at home,
Tallien may supply his place, and, in point of figure, with advantage.
He has been habituated to commissions; and he is as well qualified as
Santerre for this. Nero wished the Roman people had but one neck. The
wish of the more exalted Tallien, when he sat in judgment, was, that his
sovereign had eighty-three heads, that he might send one to every one of
the departments. Tallien will make an excellent figure at Guildhall at
the next sheriff's feast. He may open the ball with my Lady Mayoress.
But this will be after he has retired from the public table, and gone
into the private room for the enjoyment of more social and unreserved
conversation with the ministers of state and the judges of the bench.
There these ministers and magistrates will hear him entertain the worthy
aldermen with an instructing and pleasing narrative of the manner in
which he made the rich citizens of Bordeaux squeak, and gently led them
by the public credit of the guillotine to disgorge their
anti-revolutionary pelf.

All this will be the display, and the town-talk, when our regicide is on
a visit of ceremony. At home nothing will equal the pomp and splendour
of the Hotel de la Republique. There another scene of gaudy grandeur
will be opened. When his citizen excellency keeps the festival, which
every citizen is ordered to observe, for the glorious execution of Louis
the Sixteenth, and renews his oath of detestation of kings, a grand
ball, of course, will be given on the occasion. Then what a
hurly-burly;--what a crowding;--what a glare of a thousand flambeaux in
the square;--what a clamour of footmen contending at the door;--what a
rattling of a thousand coaches of duchesses, countesses, and Lady Marys,
choking the way, and overturning each other, in a struggle who should be
first to pay her court to the Citoyenne, the spouse of the twenty-first
husband, he the husband of the thirty-first wife, and to hail her in the
rank of honourable matrons, before the four days' duration of marriage
is expired!--Morals, as they were:--decorum, the great outguard of the
sex, and the proud sentiment of honour, which makes virtue more
respectable where it is, and conceals human frailty where virtue may not
be, will be banished from this land of propriety, modesty, and reserve.


This officer having attempted, with great gallantry, to cut out a
vessel from one of the enemy's harbours, was taken after an obstinate
resistance, such as obtained him the marked respect of those who were
witnesses of his valour, and knew the circumstances in which it was
displayed. Upon his arrival at Paris, he was instantly thrown into
prison; where the nature of his situation will best be understood, by
knowing, that amongst its MITIGATIONS, was the permission to walk
occasionally in the court, and to enjoy the privilege of shaving
himself. On the old system of feelings and principles, his sufferings
might have been entitled to consideration, and even in a comparison
with those of citizen La Fayette, to a priority in the order of
compassion. If the ministers had neglected to take any steps in his
favour, a declaration of the sense of the House of Commons would have
stimulated them to their duty. If they had caused a representation to
be made, such a proceeding would have added force to it. If reprisal
should be thought advisable, the address of the House would have
given an additional sanction to a measure which would have been,
indeed, justifiable without any other sanction than its own reason.
But, no. Nothing at all like it. In fact, the merit of Sir Sydney
Smith, and his claim on British compassion, was of a kind altogether
different from that which interested so deeply the authors of the
motion in favour of citizen La Fayette. In my humble opinion, Captain
Sir Sydney Smith has another sort of merit with the British nation,
and something of a higher claim on British humanity, than citizen La
Fayette. Faithful, zealous, and ardent, in the service of his king
and country; full of spirit; full of resources; going out of the
beaten road, but going right, because his uncommon enterprise was not
conducted by a vulgar judgment;--in his profession, Sir Sydney Smith
might be considered as a distinguished person, if any person could
well be distinguished in a service in which scarcely a commander can
be named without putting you in mind of some action of intrepidity,
skill, and vigilance, that has given them a fair title to contend
with any men, and in any age. But I will say nothing farther of the
merits of Sir Sydney Smith: the mortal animosity of the regicide
enemy supersedes all other panegyric. Their hatred is a judgment in
his favour without appeal. At present he is lodged in the tower of
the Temple, the last prison of Louis the Sixteenth, and the last but
one of Maria Antonietta of Austria; the prison of Louis the
Seventeenth; the prison of Elizabeth of Bourbon. There he lies,
unpitied by the grand philanthropy, to meditate upon the fate of
those who are faithful to their king and country. Whilst this
prisoner, secluded from intercourse, was indulging in these cheering
reflections, he might possibly have had the further consolation of
learning (by means of the insolent exultation of his guards), that
there was an English ambassador at Paris; he might have had the proud
comfort of hearing, that this ambassador had the honour of passing
his mornings in respectful attendance at the office of a regicide
pettifogger; and that in the evening he relaxed in the amusements of
the opera, and in the spectacle of an audience totally new; an
audience in which he had the pleasure of seeing about him not a
single face that he could formerly have known in Paris; but in the
place of that company, one indeed more than equal to it in display of
gaiety, splendour, and luxury; a set of abandoned wretches,
squandering in insolent riot the spoils of their bleeding country. A
subject of profound reflection both to the prisoner and to the


I think we might have found, before the rude hand of insolent office was
on our shoulder, and the staff of usurped authority brandished over our
heads, that contempt of the suppliant is not the best forwarder of a
suit; that national disgrace is not the high road to security, much less
to power and greatness. Patience, indeed, strongly indicates the love of
peace; but mere love does not always lead to enjoyment. It is the power
of winning that palm which ensures our wearing it. Virtues have their
place; and out of their place they hardly deserve the name. They pass
into the neighbouring vice. The patience of fortitude and the endurance
of pusillanimity are things very different, as in their principle, so in
their effects.


In the revolution of France two sorts of men were principally concerned
in giving a character and determination to its pursuits: the
philosophers and the politicians. They took different ways, but they met
in the same end. The philosophers had one predominant object, which they
pursued with a fanatical fury; that is, the utter extirpation of
religion. To that every question of empire was subordinate. They had
rather domineer in a parish of atheists than rule over a Christian
world. Their temporal ambition was wholly subservient to their
proselytizing spirit, in which they were not exceeded by Mahomet
himself. They who have made but superficial studies in the natural
history of the human mind, have been taught to look on religious
opinions as the only cause of enthusiastic zeal and sectarian
propagation. But there is no doctrine whatever, on which men can warm,
that is not capable of the very same effect. The social nature of man
impels him to propagate his principles, as much as physical impulses
urge him to propagate his kind. The passions give zeal and vehemence.
The understanding bestows design and system. The whole man moves under
the discipline of his opinions. Religion is among the most powerful
causes of enthusiasm. When anything concerning it becomes an object of
much meditation, it cannot be indifferent to the mind. They who do not
love religion, hate it. The rebels to God perfectly abhor the author of
their being. They hate him "with all their heart, with all their mind,
with all their soul, and with all their strength." He never presents
himself to their thoughts, but to menace and alarm them. They cannot
strike the sun out of heaven, but they are able to raise a smouldering
smoke that obscures him from their own eyes. Not being able to revenge
themselves on God, they have a delight in vicariously defacing,
degrading, torturing, and tearing in pieces his image in man. Let no one
judge of them by what he has conceived of them, when they were not
incorporated, and had no lead. They were then only passengers in a
common vehicle. They were then carried along with the general motion of
religion in the community, and, without being aware of it, partook of
its influence. In that situation, at worst, their nature was left free
to counter-work their principles. They despaired of giving any very
general currency to their opinions. They considered them as a reserved
privilege for the chosen few. But when the possibility of dominion,
lead, and propagation, presented itself, and that the ambition, which
before had so often made them hypocrites, might rather gain than lose by
a daring avowal of their sentiments, then the nature of this infernal
spirit, which has "evil for its good," appeared in its full perfection.
Nothing indeed but the possession of some power can with any certainty
discover what at the bottom is the true character of any man. Without
reading the speeches of Vergniaud, Francian of Nantes, Isnard, and some
others of that sort, it would not be easy to conceive the passion,
rancour, and malice of their tongues and hearts. They worked themselves
up to a perfect frenzy against religion and all its professors. They
tore the reputation of the clergy to pieces by their infuriated
declamations and invectives, before they lacerated their bodies by their
massacres. This fanatical atheism left out, we omit the principal
feature in the French revolution, and a principal consideration with
regard to the effects to be expected from a peace with it.

The other sort of men were the politicians. To them, who had little or
not at all reflected on the subject, religion was in itself no object of
love or hatred. They disbelieved it, and that was all. Neutral with
regard to that object, they took the side which in the present state of
things might best answer their purposes. They soon found that they could
not do without the philosophers; and the philosophers soon made them
sensible that the destruction of religion was to supply them with means
of conquest, first at home, and then abroad. The philosophers were the
active internal agitators, and supplied the spirit and principles: the
second gave the practical direction. Sometimes the one predominated in
the composition, sometimes the other. The only difference between them
was in the necessity of concealing the general design for a time, and in
their dealing with foreign nations; the fanatics going straightforward
and openly, the politicians by the surer mode of zigzag. In the course
of events, this, among other causes, produced fierce and bloody
contentions between them. But at the bottom they thoroughly agreed in
all the objects of ambition and irreligion, and substantially in all the
means of promoting these ends.


After such an elaborate display had been made of the injustice and
insolence of an enemy, who seems to have been irritated by every one
of the means which had been commonly used with effect to soothe the
rage of intemperate power, the natural result would be, that the
scabbard, in which we in vain attempted to plunge our sword, should
have been thrown away with scorn. It would have been natural that,
rising in the fulness of their might, insulted majesty, despised
dignity, violated justice, rejected supplication, patience goaded
into fury, would have poured out all the length of the reins upon all
the wrath which they had so long restrained. It might have been
expected that, emulous of the glory of the youthful hero in alliance
with him, touched by the example of what one man, well formed and
well placed, may do in the most desperate state of affairs, convinced
there is a courage of the cabinet full as powerful, and far less
vulgar than that of the field, our minister would have changed the
whole line of that useless, prosperous prudence, which had hitherto
produced all the effects of the blindest temerity. If he found his
situation full of danger (and I do not deny that it is perilous in
the extreme), he must feel that it is also full of glory; and that he
is placed on a stage, than which no muse of fire that had ascended
the highest heaven of invention could imagine anything more awful and
august. It was hoped that, in this swelling scene in which he moved
with some of the first potentates of Europe for his fellow-actors,
and with so many of the rest for the anxious spectators of a part,
which, as he plays it, determines for ever their destiny and his own,
like Ulysses in the unravelling point of the epic story, he would
have thrown off his patience and his rags together; and, stripped of
unworthy disguises, he would have stood forth in the form and in the
attitude of a hero. On that day it was thought he would have assumed
the port of Mars; that he would bid to be brought forth from their
hideous kennel (where his scrupulous tenderness had too long immured
them) those impatient dogs of war, whose fierce regards affright even
the minister of vengeance that feeds them; that he would let them
loose, in famine, fever, plagues, and death, upon a guilty race, to
whose frame, and to all whose habit, order, peace, religion, and
virtue are alien and abhorrent. It was expected that he would at last
have thought of active and effectual war; that he would no longer
amuse the British lion in the chase of mice and rats; that he would
no longer employ the whole naval power of Great Britain, once the
terror of the world, to prey upon the miserable remains of a peddling
commerce, which the enemy did not regard, and from which none could
profit. It was expected that he would have re-asserted the justice of
his cause; that he would have re-animated whatever remained to him of
his allies, and endeavoured to recover those whom their fears had led
astray; that he would have rekindled the martial ardour of his
citizens; that he would have held out to them the example of their
ancestry, the assertor of Europe, and the scourge of French ambition;
that he would have reminded them of a posterity, which, if this
nefarious robbery under the fraudulent name and false colour of a
government, should in full power be seated in the heart of Europe,
must for ever be consigned to vice, impiety, barbarism, and the most
ignominious slavery of body and mind. In so holy a cause it was
presumed that he would (as in the beginning of the war he did) have
opened all the temples; and with prayer, with fasting, and with
supplication (better directed than to the grim Moloch of regicide in
France), have called upon us to raise that united cry which has so
often stormed heaven, and with a pious violence forced down blessings
upon a repentant people. It was hoped that when he had invoked upon
his endeavours the favourable regard of the Protector of the human
race, it would be seen that his menaces to the enemy, and his prayers
to the Almighty, were not followed, but accompanied, with
correspondent action. It was hoped that his shrilling trumpet should
be heard, not to announce a show, but to sound a charge.


This violent breach in the community of Europe we must conclude to have
been made (even if they had not expressly declared it over and over
again) either to force mankind into an adoption of their system, or to
live in perpetual enmity with a community the most potent we have ever
known. Can any person imagine, that, in offering to mankind this
desperate alternative, there is no indication of a hostile mind, because
men in possession of the ruling authority are supposed to have a right
to act without coercion in their own territories. As to the right of men
to act anywhere according to their pleasure, without any moral tie, no
such right exists. Men are never in a state of TOTAL independence of
each other. It is not the condition of our nature: nor is it conceivable
how any man can pursue a considerable course of action without its
having some effect upon others; or, of course, without producing some
degree of responsibility for his conduct. The SITUATIONS in which men
relatively stand produce the rules and principles of that
responsibility, and afford directions to prudence in exacting it.
Distance of place does not extinguish the duties or the rights of men;
but it often renders their exercise impracticable. The same circumstance
of distance renders the noxious effects of an evil system in any
community less pernicious. But there are situations where this
difficulty does not occur; and in which, therefore, these duties are
obligatory, and these rights are to be asserted. It has ever been the
method of public jurists to draw a great part of the analogies, on which
they form the law of nations, from the principles of law which prevail
in civil community. Civil laws are not all of them merely positive.
Those, which are rather conclusions of legal reason than matters of
statutable provision, belong to universal equity, and are universally
applicable. Almost the whole praetorian law is such. There is a "Law of
Neighbourhood" which does not leave a man perfectly master on his own
ground. When a neighbour sees a NEW ERECTION, in the nature of a
nuisance, set up at his door, he has a right to represent it to the
judge; who, on his part, has a right to order the work to be stayed; or,
if established, to be removed. On this head the parent law is express
and clear, and has made many wise provisions, which, without destroying,
regulate and restrain the right of OWNERSHIP, by the right of VICINAGE.
No INNOVATION is permitted that may redound, even secondarily, to the
prejudice of a neighbour. The whole doctrine of that important head of
praetorian law, "De novi operis nunciatione," is founded on the
principle, that no NEW use should be made of a man's private liberty of
operating upon his private property, from whence a detriment may be
justly apprehended by his neighbour. This law of denunciation is
prospective. It is to anticipate what is called damnum infectum, or
damnum nondum factum, that is, a damage justly apprehended, but not
actually done. Even before it is clearly known whether the innovation be
damageable or not, the judge is competent to issue a prohibition to
innovate, until the point can be determined. This prompt interference is
grounded on principles favourable to both parties. It is preventive of
mischief difficult to be repaired, and of ill blood difficult to be
softened. The rule of law, therefore, which comes before the evil, is
amongst the very best parts of equity, and justifies the promptness of
the remedy; because, as it is well observed, Res damni infecti
celeritatem desiderat, et periculosa est dilatio. This right of
denunciation does not hold, when things continue, however inconveniently
to the neighbourhood, according to the ANCIENT mode. For there is a sort
of presumption against novelty, drawn out of a deep consideration of
human nature, and human affairs; and the maxim of jurisprudence is well
laid down, Vetustas pro lege semper habetur.

Such is the law of civil vicinity. Now where there is no constituted
judge, as between independent states there is not, the vicinage itself
is the natural judge. It is, preventively, the assertor of its own
rights, or remedially, their avenger. Neighbours are presumed to take
cognizance of each other's acts. "Vicini vicinorum facta praesumuntur
scire." This principle, which, like the rest, is as true of nations as
of individual men, has bestowed on the grand vicinage of Europe a duty
to know, and a right to prevent, any capital innovation which may amount
to the erection of a dangerous nuisance.


The operation of dangerous and delusive first principles obliges us to
have recourse to the true ones. In the intercourse between nations, we
are apt to rely too much on the instrumental part. We lay too much
weight upon the formality of treaties and compacts. We do not act much
more wisely when we trust to the interests of men as guarantees of their
engagements. The interests frequently tear to pieces the engagements;
and the passions trample upon both. Entirely to trust to either, is to
disregard our own safety, or not to know mankind. Men are not tied to
one another by papers and seals. They are led to associate by
resemblances, by conformities, by sympathies. It is with nations as with
individuals. Nothing is so strong a tie of amity between nation and
nation as correspondence in laws, customs, manners, and habits of life.
They have more than the force of treaties in themselves. They are
obligations written in the heart. They approximate men to men, without
their knowledge, and sometimes against their intentions. The secret,
unseen, but irrefragable bond of habitual intercourse holds them
together, even when their perverse and litigious nature sets them to
equivocate, scuffle, and fight, about the terms of their written
obligations. As to war, if it be the means of wrong and violence, it is
the sole means of justice amongst nations. Nothing can banish it from
the world. They who say otherwise, intending to impose upon us, do not
impose upon themselves. But it is one of the greatest objects of human
wisdom to mitigate those evils which we are unable to remove. The
conformity and analogy of which I speak, incapable, like everything
else, of preserving perfect trust and tranquillity among men, has a
strong tendency to facilitate accommodation, and to produce a generous
oblivion of the rancour of their quarrels. With this similitude, peace
is more of peace, and war is less of war. I will go further. There have
been periods of time in which communities, apparently in peace with each
other, have been more perfectly separated than, in latter times, many
nations in Europe have been in the course of long and bloody wars. The
cause must be sought in the similitude throughout Europe of religion,
laws, and manners. At bottom, these are all the same. The writers on
public law have often called this AGGREGATE of nations a commonwealth.
They had reason. It is virtually one great state having the same basis
of general law, with some diversity of provincial customs and local
establishments. The nations of Europe have had the very same Christian
religion, agreeing in the fundamental parts, varying a little in the
ceremonies and in the subordinate doctrines. The whole of the polity and
economy of every country in Europe has been derived from the same
sources. It was drawn from the old Germanic or Gothic custumary, from
the feudal institutions which must be considered as an emanation from
that custumary; and the whole has been improved and digested into system
and discipline by the Roman law. From hence arose the several orders,
with or without a monarch (which are called states), in every European
country; the strong traces of which, where monarchy predominated, were
never wholly extinguished or merged in despotism. In the few places
where monarchy was cast off, the spirit of European monarchy was still
left. Those countries still continued countries of states; that is, of
classes, orders, and distinctions such as had before subsisted, or
nearly so. Indeed, the force and form of the institution called states
continued in greater perfection in those republican communities than
under monarchies. From all those sources arose a system of manners and
of education which was nearly similar in all this quarter of the globe;
and which softened, blended, and harmonized the colours of the whole.


The same temper which brings us to solicit a Jacobin peace, will
induce us to temporize with all the evils of it. By degrees our minds
will be made to our circumstances. The novelty of such things, which
produces half the horror, and all the disgust, will be worn off. Our
ruin will be disguised in profit, and the sale of a few wretched
baubles will bribe a degenerate people to barter away the most
precious jewel of their souls. Our constitution is not made for this
kind of warfare. It provides greatly for our happiness,--it furnishes
few means for our defence. It is formed, in a great measure, upon the
principle of jealousy of the crown; and, as things stood when it took
that turn, with very great reason. I go further; it must keep alive
some part of that fire of jealousy eternally and chastely burning, or
it cannot be the British constitution. At various periods we have had
tyranny in this country, more than enough. We have had rebellions,
with more or less justification. Some of our kings have made
adulterous connections abroad, and trucked away for foreign gold the
interests and glory of their crown. But before this time our liberty
has never been corrupted. I mean to say, that it has never been
debauched from its domestic relations. To this time it has been
English liberty, and English liberty only. Our love of liberty and
our love of our country were not distinct things. Liberty is now, it
seems, put upon a larger and more liberal bottom. We are men, and as
men, undoubtedly nothing human is foreign to us. We cannot be too
liberal in our general wishes for the happiness of our kind. But in
all questions on the mode of procuring it for any particular
community, we ought to be fearful of admitting those who have no
interest in it, or who have, perhaps, an interest against it, into
the consultation. Above all, we cannot be too cautious in our
communication with those who seek their happiness by other roads than
those of humanity, morals, and religion, and whose liberty consists,
and consists alone, in being free from those restraints which are
imposed by the virtues upon the passions.

When we invite danger from a confidence in defensive measures, we ought,
first of all, to be sure that it is a species of danger against which
any defensive measures that can be adopted will be sufficient. Next we
ought to know that the spirit of our laws, or that our own dispositions,
which are stronger than laws, are susceptible of all those defensive
measures which the occasion may require. A third consideration is,
whether these measures will not bring more odium than strength to
government; and the last, whether the authority that makes them, in a
general corruption of manners and principles, can insure their
execution? Let no one argue from the state of things, as he sees them at
present, concerning what will be the means and capacities of government,
when the time arrives, which shall call for remedies commensurate to
enormous evils.

It is an obvious truth that no constitution can defend itself: it must
be defended by the wisdom and fortitude of men. These are what no
constitution can give: they are the gifts of God; and he alone knows
whether we shall possess such gifts at the time when we stand in need of
them. Constitutions furnish the civil means of getting at the natural;
it is all that in this case they can do. But our constitution has more
impediments than helps. Its excellencies, when they come to be put to
this sort of proof, may be found among its defects.

Nothing looks more awful and imposing than an ancient fortification. Its
lofty, embattled walls, its bold, projecting, rounded towers, that
pierce the sky, strike the imagination, and promise inexpugnable
strength. But they are the very things that make its weakness. You may
as well think of opposing one of these old fortresses to the mass of
artillery brought by a French irruption into the field, as to think of
resisting, by your old laws, and your old forms, the new destruction
which the corps of Jacobin engineers of to-day prepare for all such
forms and all such laws. Besides the debility and false principle of
their construction to resist the present modes of attack, the fortress
itself is in ruinous repair, and there is a practicable breach in every
part of it.

Such is the work. But miserable works have been defended by the
constancy of the garrison. Weather-beaten ships have been brought safe
to port by the spirit and alertness of the crew. But it is here that we
shall eminently fail. The day that, by their consent, the seat of
regicide has its place among the thrones of Europe, there is no longer a
motive for zeal in their favour; it will at best be cold, unimpassioned,
dejected, melancholy duty. The glory will seem all on the other side.
The friends of the crown will appear, not as champions, but as victims;
discountenanced, mortified, lowered, defeated, they will fall into
listlessness and indifference. They will leave things to take their
course; enjoy the present hour, and submit to the common fate.


Your throne cannot stand secure upon the principles of unconditional
submission and passive obedience; on powers exercised without the
concurrence of the people to be governed; on acts made in defiance of
their prejudices and habits; on acquiescence procured by foreign
mercenary troops, and secured by standing armies. These may possibly
be the foundation of other thrones: they must be the subversion of
yours. It was not to passive principles in our ancestors that we owe
the honour of appearing before a sovereign, who cannot feel that he
is a prince, without knowing that we ought to be free. The revolution
is a departure from the ancient course of the descent of this
monarchy. The people at that time re-entered into their original
rights; and it was not because a positive law authorized what was
then done, but because the freedom and safety of the subject, the
origin and cause of all laws, required a proceeding paramount and
superior to them. At that ever-memorable and instructive period, the
letter of the law was superseded in favour of the substance of
liberty. To the free choice, therefore, of the people, without
either king or parliament, we owe that happy establishment, out of
which both king and parliament were regenerated. From that great
principle of liberty have originated the statutes, confirming and
ratifying the establishment, from which your majesty derives your
right to rule over us. Those statutes have not given us our
liberties; our liberties have produced them. Every hour of your
majesty's reign your title stands upon the very same foundation on
which it was at first laid; and we do not know a better on which it
can possibly be placed.

Convinced, sir, that you cannot have different rights and a different
security in different parts of your dominions, we wish to lay an even
platform for your throne; and to give it an unmovable stability, by
laying it on the general freedom of your people; and by securing to your
majesty that confidence and affection in all parts of your dominions,
which makes your best security and dearest title in this the chief seat
of your empire.

Such, sir, being amongst us the foundation of monarchy itself, much more
clearly and much more peculiarly is it the ground of all parliamentary
power. Parliament is a security provided for the protection of freedom,
and not a subtile fiction, contrived to amuse the people in its place.
The authority of both houses can, still less than that of the crown, be
supported upon different principles in different places, so as to be,
for one part of your subjects, a protector of liberty, and for another a
fund of despotism, through which prerogative is extended by occasional
powers, whenever an arbitrary will finds itself straitened by the
restrictions of law. Had it seemed good to parliament to consider itself
as the indulgent guardian and strong protector of the freedom of the
subordinate popular assemblies, instead of exercising its power to their
annihilation, there is no doubt that it never could have been their
inclination, because not their interest, to raise questions on the
extent of parliamentary rights, or to enfeeble privileges which were the
security of their own. Powers evident from necessity, and not suspicious
from an alarming mode or purpose in the exertion, would, as formerly
they were, be cheerfully submitted to; and these would have been fully
sufficient for conservation of unity in the empire, and for directing
its wealth to one common centre. Another use has produced other
consequences; and a power which refuses to be limited by moderation must
either be lost, or find other more distinct and satisfactory


He had undertaken to demonstrate by arguments which he thought could
not be refuted, and by documents which he was sure could not be
denied, that no comparison was to be made between the British
government and the French usurpation. That they who endeavoured madly
to compare them, were by no means making the comparison of one good
system with another good system, which varied only in local and
circumstantial differences; much less, that they were holding out to
us a superior pattern of legal liberty, which we might substitute in
the place of our old, and, as they described it, superannuated
constitution. He meant to demonstrate that the French scheme was not
a comparative good, but a positive evil. That the question did not at
all turn, as had been stated, on a parallel between a monarchy and a
republic. He denied that the present scheme of things in France did
at all deserve the respectable name of a republic: he had therefore
no comparison between monarchies and republics to make. That what was
done in France was a wild attempt to methodize anarchy; to perpetuate
and fix disorder. That it was a foul, impious, monstrous thing,
wholly out of the course of moral nature. He undertook to prove that
it was generated in treachery, fraud, falsehood, hypocrisy, and
unprovoked murder. He offered to make out that those who had led in
that business had conducted themselves with the utmost perfidy to
their colleagues in function, and with the most flagrant perjury both
towards their king and their constituents; to the one of whom the
Assembly had sworn fealty, and to the other, when under no sort of
violence or constraint, they had sworn a full obedience to
instructions.--That, by the terror of assassination, they had driven
away a very great number of the members, so as to produce a false
appearance of a majority.--That this fictitious majority had
fabricated a constitution, which, as now it stands, is a tyranny far
beyond any example that can be found in the civilized European world
of our age; that therefore the lovers of it must be lovers, not of
liberty, but if they really understand its nature, of the lowest and
basest of all servitude.

He proposed to prove that the present state of things in France is not a
transient evil, productive, as some have too favourably represented it,
of a lasting good; but that the present evil is only the means of
producing future and (if that were possible) worse evils.--That it is
not an undigested, imperfect, and crude scheme of liberty, which may
gradually be mellowed and ripened into an orderly and social freedom;
but that it is so fundamentally wrong, as to be utterly incapable of
correcting itself by any length of time, or of being formed into any
mode of polity of which a member of the House of Commons could publicly
declare his approbation.


I ever looked on Lord Keppel as one of the greatest and best men of his
age; and I loved and cultivated him accordingly. He was much in my
heart, and I believe I was in his to the very last beat. It was at his
trial at Portsmouth that he gave me this picture. With what zeal and
anxious affection I attended him through that his agony of glory, what
part my son took in the early flush and enthusiasm of his virtue, and
the pious passion with which he attached himself to all my connections,
with what prodigality we both squandered ourselves in courting almost
every sort of enmity for his sake, I believe he felt, just as I should
have felt such friendship on such an occasion. I partook indeed of this
honour with several of the first, and best, and ablest in the kingdom,
but I was behindhand with none of them; and I am sure, that if to the
eternal disgrace of this nation, and to the total annihilation of every
trace of honour and virtue in it, things had taken a different turn from
what they did, I should have attended him to the quarter-deck with no
less good-will and more pride, though with far other feelings, than I
partook of the general flow of national joy that attended the justice
that was done to his virtue.

Pardon, my lord, the feeble garrulity of age, which loves to diffuse
itself in discourse of the departed great. At my years we live in
retrospect alone; and, wholly unfitted for the society of vigorous life,
we enjoy, the best balm to all wounds, the consolation of friendship in
those only whom we have lost for ever. Feeling the loss of Lord Keppel
at all times, at no time did I feel it so much as on the first day when
I was attacked in the House of Lords.

Had he lived, that reverend form would have risen in its place, and,
with a mild, parental reprehension to his nephew the duke of Bedford, he
would have told him that the favour of that gracious prince, who had
honoured his virtues with the government of the navy of Great Britain,
and with a seat in the hereditary great council of his kingdom, was not
undeservedly shown to the friend of the best portion of his life, and
his faithful companion and counsellor under his rudest trials. He would
have told him, that to whomever else these reproaches might be becoming,
they were not decorous in his near kindred. He would have told him that
when men in that rank lose decorum they lose everything. On that day I
had a loss in Lord Keppel; but the public loss of him in this awful
crisis--! I speak from much knowledge of the person, he never would have
listened to any compromise with the rabble rout of this sans-culotterie
of France. His goodness of heart, his reason, his taste, his public
duty, his principles, his prejudices, would have repelled him for ever
from all connection with that horrid medley of madness, vice, impiety,
and crime.

Lord Keppel had two countries; one of descent, and one of birth. Their
interest and their glory are the same; and his mind was capacious of
both. His family was noble, and it was Dutch: that is, he was the oldest
and purest nobility that Europe can boast, among a people renowned above
all others for love of their native land. Though it was never shown in
insult to any human being, Lord Keppel was something high. It was a wild
stock of pride, on which the tenderest of all hearts had grafted the
milder virtues. He valued ancient nobility; and he was not disinclined
to augment it with new honours. He valued the old nobility and the new,
not as an excuse for inglorious sloth, but as an incitement to virtuous
activity. He considered it as a sort of cure for selfishness and a
narrow mind; conceiving that a man born in an elevated place in himself
was nothing, but everything in what went before, and what was to come
after him. Without much speculation, but by the sure instinct of
ingenuous feelings, and by the dictates of plain, unsophisticated,
natural understanding, he felt that no great commonwealth could by any
possibility long subsist without a body of some kind or other of
nobility, decorated with honour, and fortified by privilege. This
nobility forms the chain that connects the ages of a nation, which
otherwise (with Mr. Paine) would soon be taught that no one generation
can bind another. He felt that no political fabric could be well made
without some such order of things as might, through a series of time,
afford a rational hope of securing unity, coherence, consistency, and
stability to the state. He felt that nothing else can protect it against
the levity of courts, and the greater levity of the multitude. That to
talk of hereditary monarchy, without anything else of hereditary
reverence in the commonwealth, was a low-minded absurdity, fit only for
those detestable "fools aspiring to be knaves," who began to forge in
1789 the false money of the French constitution.--That it is one fatal
objection to all NEW fancied and NEW FABRICATED republics (among a
people who, once possessing such an advantage, have wickedly and
insolently rejected it), that the PREJUDICE of an old nobility is a
thing that CANNOT be made. It may be improved, it may be corrected, it
may be replenished: men may be taken from it or aggregated to it, but
the THING ITSELF is matter of INVETERATE opinion, and therefore CANNOT
be matter of mere positive institution. He felt that this nobility in
fact does not exist in wrong of other orders of the state, but by them,
and for them.


Let government protect and encourage industry, secure property, repress
violence, and discountenance fraud, it is all that they have to do. In
other respects, the less they meddle in these affairs the better; the
rest is in the hands of our Master and theirs. We are in a constitution
of things wherein--"Modo sol nimius, modo corripit imber." But I will
push this matter no further. As I have said a good deal upon it at
various times during my public service, and have lately written
something on it which may yet see the light, I shall content myself now
with observing, that the vigorous and laborious class of life has lately
got, from the bon ton of the humanity of this day, the name of the
"labouring poor." We have heard many plans for the relief of the
"labouring poor." This puling jargon is not as innocent as it is
foolish. In meddling with great affairs, weakness is never innoxious.
Hitherto the name of poor (in the sense in which it is used to excite
compassion) has not been used for those who can, but for those who
cannot, labour--for the sick and infirm, for orphan infancy, for
languishing and decrepit age: but when we affect to pity, as poor, those
who must labour, or the world cannot exist, we are trifling with the
condition of mankind. It is the common doom of man that he must eat his
bread by the sweat of his brow, that is, by the sweat of his body, or
the sweat of his mind. If this toil was inflicted as a curse, it is, as
might be expected from the curses of the Father of all blessings--it is
tempered with many alleviations, many comforts. Every attempt to fly
from it, and to refuse the very terms of our existence, becomes much
more truly a curse; and heavier pains and penalties fall upon those who
would elude the tasks which are put upon them by the great Master
Workman of the world, who, in his dealings with his creatures,
sympathizes with their weakness, and speaking of a creation wrought by
mere will out of nothing, speaks of six days of LABOUR and one of REST.
I do not call a healthy young man, cheerful in his mind, and vigorous in
his arms, I cannot call such a man POOR; I cannot pity my kind as a
kind, merely because they are men. This affected pity only tends to
dissatisfy them with their condition, and to teach them to seek
resources where no resources are to be found, in something else than
their own industry, and frugality, and sobriety. Whatever may be the
intention (which, because I do not know, I cannot dispute) of those who
would discontent mankind by this strange pity, they act towards us, in
the consequences, as if they were our worst enemies.


I beg leave to speak of our church establishment, which is the first of
our prejudices, not a prejudice destitute of reason, but involving in it
profound and extensive wisdom. I speak of it first. It is first, and
last, and midst in our minds. For, taking ground on that religious
system, of which we are now in possession, we continue to act on the
early received and uniformly continued sense of mankind. That sense not
only, like a wise architect, hath built up the august fabric of states,
but like a provident proprietor, to preserve the structure from
profanation and ruin, as a sacred temple purged from all the impurities
of fraud, and violence, and injustice, and tyranny, hath solemnly and
for ever consecrated the commonwealth, and all that officiate in it.
This consecration is made, that all who administer in the government of
men, in which they stand in the person of God himself, should have high
and worthy notions of their function and destination; that their hope
should be full of immortality; that they should not look to the paltry
pelf of the moment, nor to the temporary and transient praise of the
vulgar, but to a solid, permanent existence, in the permanent part of
their nature, and to a permanent fame and glory, in the example they
leave as a rich inheritance to the world.

Such sublime principles ought to be infused into persons of exalted
situations; and religious establishments provided, that may continually
revive and enforce them. Every sort of moral, every sort of civil, every
sort of politic institution, aiding the rational and natural ties that
connect the human understanding and affections to the divine, are not
more than necessary, in order to build up that wonderful structure, Man;
whose prerogative it is, to be in a great degree a creature of his own
making; and who, when made as he ought to be made, is destined to hold
no trivial place in the creation. But whenever man is put over men, as
the better nature ought ever to preside, in that case more particularly,
he should as nearly as possible be approximated to his perfection.

The consecration of the state, by a state religious establishment, is
necessary also to operate with a wholesome awe upon free citizens;
because in order to secure their freedom, they must enjoy some
determinate portion of power. To them therefore a religion connected
with the state, and with their duty towards it, becomes even more
necessary than in such societies, where the people, by the terms of
their subjection, are confined to private sentiments, and the management
of their own family concerns. All persons possessing any portion of
power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they
act in trust; and that they are to account for their conduct in that
trust to the one great Master, Author, and Founder of society. This
principle ought even to be more strongly impressed upon the minds of
those who compose the collective sovereignty, than upon those of single
princes. Without instruments, these princes can do nothing. Whoever uses
instruments, in finding helps, finds also impediments. Their power is
therefore by no means complete; nor are they safe in extreme abuse. Such
persons, however elevated by flattery, arrogance, and self-opinion, must
be sensible that whether covered or not by positive law, in some way or
other they are accountable even here for the abuse of their trust. If
they are not cut off by a rebellion of their people, they may be
strangled by the very janissaries kept for their security against all
other rebellion. Thus we have seen the king of France sold by his
soldiers for an increase of pay. But where popular authority is absolute
and unrestrained, the people have an infinitely greater, because a far
better founded, confidence in their own power. They are themselves, in a
great measure, their own instruments. They are nearer to their objects.
Besides, they are less under responsibility to one of the greatest
controlling powers on earth, the sense of fame and estimation. The share
of infamy, that is likely to fall to the lot of each individual in
public acts, is small indeed; the operation of opinion being in the
inverse ratio to the number of those who abuse power. Their own
approbation of their own acts has to them the appearance of a public
judgment in their favour. A perfect democracy is therefore the most
shameless thing in the world. As it is the most shameless, it is also
the most fearless. No man apprehends in his person that he can be made
subject to punishment. Certainly the people at large never ought: for as
all punishments are for example towards the conservation of the people
at large, the people at large can never become the subject of punishment
by any human hand. (Quicquid multis peccatur inultum.) It is therefore
of infinite importance that they should not be suffered to imagine that
their will, any more than that of kings, is the standard of right and
wrong. They ought to be persuaded that they are full as little entitled,
and far less qualified, with safety to themselves, to use any arbitrary
power whatsoever; that therefore they are not, under a false show of
liberty, but in truth, to exercise an unnatural, inverted domination,
tyranically to exact from those who officiate in the state, not an
entire devotion to their interest, which is their right, but an abject
submission to their occasional will; extinguishing thereby, in all those
who serve them, all moral principle, all sense of dignity, all use of
judgment, and all consistency of character; whilst by the very same
process they give themselves up a proper, a suitable, but a most
contemptible prey to the servile ambition of popular sycophants, or
courtly flatterers.


Let those who have the trust of political or of natural authority
ever keep watch against the desperate enterprises of innovation: let
even their benevolence be fortified and armed. They have before their
eyes the example of a monarch, insulted, degraded, confined, deposed;
his family dispersed, scattered, imprisoned; his wife insulted to his
face like the vilest of the sex, by the vilest of all populace;
himself three times dragged by these wretches in an infamous triumph;
his children torn from him, in violation of the first right of
nature, and given into the tuition of the most desperate and impious
of the leaders of desperate and impious clubs; his revenues
dilapidated and plundered; his magistrates murdered; his clergy
proscribed, persecuted, famished; his nobility degraded in their
rank, undone in their fortunes, fugitives in their persons; his
armies corrupted and ruined; his whole people impoverished,
disunited, dissolved; whilst through the bars of his prison, and
amidst the bayonets of his keepers, he hears the tumult of two
conflicting factions, equally wicked and abandoned, who agree in
principles, in dispositions, and in objects, but who tear each other
to pieces about the most effectual means of obtaining their common
end; the one contending to preserve for a while his name, and his
person, the more easily to destroy the royal authority--the other
clamouring to cut off the name, the person, and the monarchy
together, by one sacrilegious execution. All this accumulation of
calamity, the greatest that ever fell upon one man, has fallen upon
his head, because he had left his virtues unguarded by caution;
because he was not taught that, where power is concerned, he who will
confer benefits must take security against ingratitude.


All this violent cry against the nobility I take to be a mere work of
art. To be honoured and even privileged by the laws, opinions, and
inveterate usages of our country, growing out of the prejudice of ages,
has nothing to provoke horror and indignation in any man. Even to be too
tenacious of those privileges is not absolutely a crime. The strong
struggle in every individual to preserve possession of what he has found
to belong to him, and to distinguish him, is one of the securities
against injustice and despotism implanted in our nature. It operates as
an instinct to secure property, and to preserve communities in a settled
state. What is there to shock in this? Nobility is a graceful ornament
to the civil order. It is the Corinthian capital of polished society.
Omnes boni nobilitati semper favemus, was the saying of a wise and good
man. It is indeed one sign of a liberal and benevolent mind to incline
to it with some sort of partial propensity. He feels no ennobling
principle in his own heart who wishes to level all the artificial
institutions which have been adopted for giving a body to opinion, and
permanence to fugitive esteem. It is a sour, malignant, envious
disposition, without taste for the reality, or for any image or
representation of virtue, that sees with joy the unmerited fall of what
had long flourished in splendour and in honour. I do not like to see
anything destroyed; any void produced in society; any ruin on the face
of the land. It was therefore with no disappointment or dissatisfaction
that my inquiries and observations did not present to me any
incorrigible vices in the noblesse of France, or any abuse which could
not be removed by a reform very short of abolition. Your noblesse did
not deserve punishment: but to degrade is to punish.

It was with the same satisfaction I found that the result of my inquiry
concerning your clergy was not dissimilar. It is no soothing news to my
ears, that great bodies of men are incurably corrupt. It is not with
much credulity I listen to any when they speak evil of those whom they
are going to plunder. I rather suspect that vices are feigned or
exaggerated when profit is looked for in their punishment. An enemy is a
bad witness; a robber is a worse. Vices and abuses there were
undoubtedly in that order, and must be. It was an old establishment, and
not frequently revised. But I saw no crimes in the individuals that
merited confiscation of their substance, nor those cruel insults and
degradations, and that unnatural persecution, which have been
substituted in the place of meliorating regulation.

If there had been any just cause for this new religious persecution, the
atheistic libellers, who act as trumpeters to animate the populace to
plunder, do not love anybody so much as not to dwell with complacence on
the vices of the existing clergy. This they have not done. They find
themselves obliged to rake into the histories of former ages (which they
have ransacked with a malignant and profligate industry) for every
instance of oppression and persecution which has been made by that body
or in its favour, in order to justify, upon very iniquitous, because
very illogical, principles of retaliation, their own persecutions and
their own cruelties. After destroying all other genealogies and family
distinctions, they invent a sort of pedigree of crimes. It is not very
just to chastise men for the offences of their natural ancestors: but to
take the fiction of ancestry in a corporate succession as a ground for
punishing men who have no relation to guilty acts, except in names and
general descriptions, is a sort of refinement in injustice belonging to
the philosophy of this enlightened age. The Assembly punishes men, many,
if not most, of whom abhor the violent conduct of ecclesiastics in
former times as much as their present persecutors can do, and who would
be as loud and as strong in the expression of that sense, if they were
not well aware of the purposes for which all this declamation is
employed. Corporate bodies are immortal for the good of the members, but
not for their punishment. Nations themselves are such corporations. As
well might we in England think of waging inexpiable war upon all
Frenchmen for the evils which they have brought upon us in the several
periods of our mutual hostilities. You might, on your part, think
yourselves justified in falling upon all Englishmen on account of the
unparalleled calamities brought upon the people of France by the unjust
invasions of our Henries and our Edwards. Indeed, we should be mutually
justified in this exterminatory war upon each other, full as much as you
are in the unprovoked persecution of your present countrymen, on account
of the conduct of men of the same name in other times.


The legislators who framed the ancient republics knew that their
business was too arduous to be accomplished with no better apparatus
than the metaphysics of an undergraduate, and the mathematics and
arithmetic of an exciseman. They had to do with men, and they were
obliged to study human nature. They had to do with citizens, and they
were obliged to study the effects of those habits which are communicated
by the circumstances of civil life. They were sensible that the
operation of this second nature on the first produced a new combination;
and thence arose many diversities amongst men, according to their birth,
their education, their professions, the periods of their lives, their
residence in towns or in the country, their several ways of acquiring
and of fixing property, and according to the quality of the property
itself, all which rendered them as it were so many different species of
animals. From hence they thought themselves obliged to dispose their
citizens into such classes, and to place them in such situations in the
state as their peculiar habits might qualify them to fill, and to allot
to them such appropriated privileges as might secure to them what their
specific occasions required, and which might furnish to each description
such force as might protect it in the conflict caused by the diversity
of interests that must exist, and must contend, in all complex society;
for the legislator would have been ashamed that the coarse husbandman
should well know how to assort and to use his sheep, horses, and oxen,
and should have enough of common sense not to abstract and equalize them
all into animals, without providing for each kind an appropriate food,
care, and employment; whilst he, the economist, disposer, and shepherd
of his own kindred, subliming himself into an airy metaphysician, was
resolved to know nothing of his flocks but as men in general. It is for
this reason that Montesquieu observed, very justly, that in their
classification of the citizens, the great legislators of antiquity made
the greatest display of their powers, and even soared above themselves.
It is here that your modern legislators have gone deep into the negative
series, and sunk even below their own nothing. As the first sort of
legislators attended to the different kinds of citizens, and combined
them into one commonwealth, the others, the metaphysical and
alchemistical legislators, have taken the directly contrary course. They
have attempted to confound all sorts of citizens, as well as they could,
into one homogeneous mass; and then they divided this their amalgama
into a number of incoherent republics. They reduce men to loose
counters, merely for the sake of simple telling, and not to figures
whose power is to arise from their place in the table. The elements of
their own metaphysics might have taught them better lessons. The troll
of their categorical table might have informed them that there was
something else in the intellectual world besides SUBSTANCE and QUANTITY.
They might learn from the catechism of metaphysics that there were eight
heads more, in every complex deliberation, which they have never thought
of; though these, of all the ten, are the subjects on which the skill of
man can operate anything at all. So far from this able disposition of
some of the old republican legislators, which follows with a solicitous
accuracy the moral conditions and propensities of men, they have leveled
and crushed together all the orders which they found, even under the
coarse, unartificial arrangement of the monarchy, in which mode of
government the classing of the citizens is not of so much importance as
in a republic. It is true, however, that every such classification, if
properly ordered, is good in all forms of government; and composes a
strong barrier against the excesses of despotism, as well as it is the
necessary means of giving effect and permanence to a republic. For want
of something of this kind, if the present project of a republic should
fail, all securities to a moderated freedom fail along with it; all the
indirect restraints which mitigate despotism are removed; insomuch that
if monarchy should ever again obtain an entire ascendancy in France,
under this or under any other dynasty, it will probably be, if not
voluntarily tempered at setting out by the wise and virtuous counsels of
the prince, the most completely arbitrary power that has ever appeared
on earth. This is to play a most desperate game.


But one of the first and most leading principles on which the
commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, is lest the temporary
possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of what they have received
from their ancestors, or of what is due to their posterity, should act
as if they were the entire masters; that they should not think it
amongst their rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the
inheritance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric
of their society; hazarding to leave to those who come after them a ruin
instead of an habitation--and teaching these successors as little to
respect their contrivances, as they had themselves respected the
institutions of their forefathers. By this unprincipled facility of
changing the state as often, and as much, and in as many ways, as there
are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and continuity of the
commonwealth would be broken. No one generation could link with the
other. Men would become little better than the flies of a summer.

And first of all, the science of jurisprudence, the pride of the human
intellect, which, with all its defects, redundancies, and errors, is the
collected reason of ages, combining the principles of original justice
with the infinite variety of human concerns, as a heap of old exploded
errors, would be no longer studied. Personal self-sufficiency and
arrogance (the certain attendants upon all those who have never
experienced a wisdom greater than their own) would usurp the tribunal.
Of course no certain laws, establishing invariable grounds of hope and
fear, would keep the actions of men in a certain course, or direct them
to a certain end. Nothing stable in the modes of holding property, or
exercising function, could form a solid ground on which any parent could
speculate in the education of his offspring, or in a choice for their
future establishment in the world. No principles would be early worked
into the habits. As soon as the most able instructor had completed his
laborious course of institution, instead of sending forth his pupil,
accomplished in a virtuous discipline, fitted to procure him attention
and respect in his place in society, he would find everything altered;
and that he had turned out a poor creature to the contempt and derision
of the world, ignorant of the true grounds of estimation. Who would
insure a tender and delicate sense of honour to beat almost with the
first pulses of the heart, when no man could know what would be the test
of honour in a nation, continually varying the standard of its coin? No
part of life would retain its acquisitions. Barbarism with regard to
science and literature, unskilfulness with regard to arts and
manufactures, would infallibly succeed to the want of a steady education
and settled principle; and thus the commonwealth itself would, in a few
generations, crumble away, be disconnected into the dust and powder of
individuality, and at length dispersed to all the winds of heaven. To
avoid therefore the evils of inconstancy and versatility, ten thousand
times worse than those of obstinacy and the blindest prejudice, we have
consecrated the state, that no man should approach to look into its
defects or corruptions but with due caution; that he should never dream
of beginning its reformation by its subversion; that he should approach
to the faults of the state as to the wounds of a father, with pious awe,
and trembling solicitude. By this wise prejudice we are taught to look
with horror on those children of their country, who are prompt rashly to
hack that aged parent in pieces, and put him into the kettle of
magicians, in hopes that by their poisonous weeds, and wild
incantations, they may regenerate the paternal constitution, and
renovate their father's life.


Four hundred years have gone over us; but I believe we are not
materially changed since that period. Thanks to our sullen resistance to
innovation, thanks to the cold sluggishness of our national character,
we still bear the stamp of our forefathers. We have not (as I conceive)
lost the generosity and dignity of thinking of the fourteenth century;
nor as yet have we subtilized ourselves into savages. We are not the
converts of Rousseau; we are not the disciples of Voltaire; Helvetius
has made no progress amongst us. Atheists are not our preachers; madmen
are not our lawgivers. We know that WE have made no discoveries; and we
think that no discoveries are to be made in morality; nor many in the
great principles of government, nor in the ideas of liberty; which were
understood long before we were born, altogether as well as they will be
after the grave has heaped its mould upon our presumption, and the
silent tomb shall have imposed its law on our pert loquacity. In England
we have not yet been completely embowelled of our natural entrails; we
still feel within us, and we cherish and cultivate, those inbred
sentiments which are the faithful guardians, the active monitors of our
duty, the true supporters of all liberal and manly morals. We have not
been drawn and trussed, in order that we may be filled, like stuffed
birds in a museum, with chaff and rags and paltry blurred shreds of
paper about the rights of man. We preserve the whole of our feelings
still native and entire, unsophisticated by pedantry and infidelity. We
have real hearts of flesh and blood beating in our bosoms. We fear God;
we look up with awe to kings; with affection to parliaments; with duty
to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility.
Why? Because when such ideas are brought before our minds, it is NATURAL
to be so affected; because all other feelings are false and spurious,
and tend to corrupt our minds, to vitiate our primary morals, to render
us unfit for rational liberty; and by teaching us a servile, licentious,
and abandoned insolence, to be our low sport for a few holidays, to make
us perfectly fit for, and justly deserving of, slavery, through the
whole course of our lives.

You see, sir, that in this enlightened age I am bold enough to confess,
that we are generally men of untaught feelings; that instead of casting
away all our old prejudices, we cherish them to a very considerable
degree, and, to take more shame to ourselves, we cherish them because
they are prejudices; and the longer they have lasted, and the more
generally they have prevailed, the more we cherish them. We are afraid
to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason;
because we suspect that the stock in each man is small, and that the
individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and
capital of nations and of ages. Many of our men of speculation, instead
of exploding general prejudices, employ their sagacity to discover the
latent wisdom which prevails in them. If they find what they seek, and
they seldom fail, they think it more wise to continue the prejudice,
with the reason involved, than to cast away the coat of prejudice, and
to leave nothing but the naked reason; because prejudice, with its
reason, has a motive to give action to that reason, and an affection
which will give it permanence. Prejudice is of ready application to the
emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom
and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of
decision, sceptical, puzzled, and unresolved. Prejudice renders a man's
virtue his habit; and not a series of unconnected acts. Through just
prejudice, his duty becomes a part of his nature.


The literary cabal had some years ago formed something like a regular
plan for the destruction of the Christian religion. This object they
pursued with a degree of zeal which hitherto had been discovered only
in the propagators of some system of piety. They were possessed with
a spirit of proselytism in the most fanatical degree; and from
thence, by an easy progress, with the spirit of persecution according
to their means. What was not to be done towards their great end by
any direct or immediate act, might be wrought by a longer process
through the medium of opinion. To command that opinion, the first
step is to establish a dominion over those who direct it. They
contrived to possess themselves, with great method and perseverance,
of all the avenues to literary fame. Many of them indeed stood high
in the ranks of literature and science. The world had done them
justice; and in favour of general talents forgave the evil tendency
of their peculiar principles. This was true liberality; which they
returned by endeavouring to confine the reputation of sense,
learning, and taste to themselves or their followers. I will venture
to say that this narrow, exclusive spirit has not been less
prejudicial to literature and to taste, than to morals and true
philosophy. Those atheistical fathers have a bigotry of their own;
and they have learnt to talk against monks with the spirit of a monk.
But in some things they are men of the world. The resources of
intrigue are called in to supply the defects of argument and wit. To
this system of literary monopoly was joined an unremitting industry
to blacken and discredit in every way, and by every means, all those
who did not hold to their faction. To those who have observed the
spirit of their conduct, it has long been clear that nothing was
wanted but the power of carrying the intolerance of the tongue and of
the pen into a persecution which would strike at property, liberty,
and life.

The desultory and faint persecution carried on against them, more from
compliance with form and decency, than with serious resentment, neither
weakened their strength, nor relaxed their efforts. The issue of the
whole was, that, what with opposition, and what with success, a violent
and malignant zeal, of a kind hitherto unknown in the world, had taken
an entire possession of their minds, and rendered their whole
conversation, which otherwise would have been pleasing and instructive,
perfectly disgusting. A spirit of cabal, intrigue, and proselytism,
pervaded all their thoughts, words, and actions. And, as controversial
zeal soon turns its thoughts on force, they began to insinuate
themselves into a correspondence with foreign princes; in hopes, through
their authority, which at first they flattered, they might bring about
the changes they had in view. To them it was indifferent whether these
changes were to be accomplished by the thunderbolt of despotism, or by
the earthquake of popular commotion. The correspondence between this
cabal and the late king of Prussia, will throw no small light upon the
spirit of all their proceedings. For the same purpose for which they
intrigued with princes, they cultivated, in a distinguished manner, the
monied interest of France; and partly through the means furnished by
those whose peculiar offices gave them the most extensive and certain
means of communication, they carefully occupied all the avenues to

Writers, especially when they act in a body, and with one direction,
have great influence on the public mind; the alliance, therefore, of
these writers with the monied interest, had no small effect in removing
the popular odium and envy which attended that species of wealth. These
writers, like the propagators of all novelties, pretended to a great
zeal for the poor, and the lower orders, whilst in their satires they
rendered hateful, by every exaggeration, the faults of courts, of
nobility, and of priesthood. They became a sort of demagogues. They
served as a link to unite, in favour of one object, obnoxious wealth to
restless and desperate poverty.


The second material of cement for their new republic is the
superiority of the city of Paris: and this I admit is strongly
connected with the other cementing principle of paper circulation and
confiscation. It is in this part of the project we must look for the
cause of the destruction of all the old bounds of provinces and
jurisdictions, ecclesiastical and secular, and the dissolution of all
ancient combinations of things, as well as the formation of so many
small unconnected republics. The power of the city of Paris is
evidently one great spring of all their politics. It is through the
power of Paris, now become the centre and focus of jobbing, that the
leaders of this faction direct, or rather command, the whole
legislative and the whole executive government. Everything therefore
must be done which can confirm the authority of that city over the
other republics. Paris is compact; she has an enormous strength,
wholly disproportioned to the force of any of the square republics;
and this strength is collected and condensed within a narrow compass.
Paris has a natural and easy connection of its parts, which will not
be affected by any scheme of a geometrical constitution, nor does it
much signify whether its proportion of representation be more or
less, since it has the whole draft of fishes in its drag-net. The
other divisions of the kingdom being hackled and torn to pieces, and
separated from all their habitual means, and even principles of
union, cannot, for some time at least, confederate against her.
Nothing was to be left in all the subordinate members, but weakness,
disconnection, and confusion. To confirm this part of the plan, the
Assembly has lately come to a resolution, that no two of their
republics shall have the same commander-in-chief.

To a person who takes a view of the whole, the strength of Paris, thus
formed, will appear a system of general weakness. It is boasted that the
geometrical policy has been adopted, that all local ideas should be
sunk, and that the people should be no longer Gascons, Picards, Bretons,
Normans; but Frenchmen, with one country, one heart, and one Assembly.
But instead of being all Frenchmen, the greater likelihood is, that the
inhabitants of that region will shortly have no country. No man ever was
attached by a sense of pride, partiality, or real affection, to a
description of square measurements. He never will glory in belonging to
the Chequer No. 71, or to any other badge-ticket. We begin our public
affections in our families. No cold relation is a zealous citizen. We
pass on to our neighbourhoods, and our habitual provincial connections.
These are inns and resting-places. Such divisions of our country as have
been formed by habit, and not by a sudden jerk of authority, were so
many little images of the great country in which the heart found
something which it could fill. The love to the whole is not extinguished
by this subordinate partiality. Perhaps it is a sort of elemental
training to those higher and more large regards, by which alone men come
to be affected, as with their own concern, in the prosperity of a
kingdom so extensive as that of France. In that general territory
itself, as in the old name of provinces, the citizens are interested
from old prejudices and unreasoned habits, and not on account of the
geometric properties of its figure. The power and pre-eminence of Paris
does certainly press down and hold these republics together as long as
it lasts. But, for the reasons I have already given you, I think it
cannot last very long.


Why should the expenditure of a great landed property, which is a
dispersion of the surplus product of the soil, appear intolerable to
you or to me, when it takes its course through the accumulation of
vast libraries, which are the history of the force and weakness of
the human mind; through great collections of ancient records, medals,
and coins, which attest and explain laws and customs; through
paintings and statues, that, by imitating nature, seem to extend the
limits of creation; through grand monuments of the dead, which
continue the regards and connections of life beyond the grave;
through collections of the specimens of nature, which become a
representative assembly of all the classes and families of the world,
that by disposition facilitate, and, by exciting curiosity, open the
avenues to science? If by great permanent establishments, all these
objects of expense are better secured from the inconstant sport of
personal caprice and personal extravagance, are they worse than if
the same tastes prevailed in scattered individuals? Does not the
sweat of the mason and carpenter, who toil in order to partake the
sweat of the peasant, flow as pleasantly and as salubriously, in the
construction and repair of the majestic edifices of religion, as in
the painted booths and sordid sties of vice and luxury; as honourably
and as profitably in repairing those sacred works, which grow hoary
with innumerable years, as on the momentary receptacles of transient
voluptuousness; in opera-houses, and brothels, and gaming-houses, and
club-houses, and obelisks in the Champ de Mars? Is the surplus
product of the olive and the vine worse employed in the frugal
sustenance of persons, whom the fictions of a pious imagination raise
to dignity by construing in the service of God, than in pampering the
innumerable multitude of those who are degraded by being made useless
domestics, subservient to the pride of man? Are the decorations of
temples an expenditure less worthy a wise man, than ribbons, and
laces, and national cockades, and petites maisons, and petits
soupers, and all the innumerable fopperies and follies, in which
opulence sports away the burthen of its superfluity?

We tolerate even these; not from love of them, but for fear of worse. We
tolerate them, because property and liberty, to a degree, acquire that
toleration. But why proscribe the other, and surely, in every point of
view, the more laudable use of estates? Why, through the violation of
all property, through an outrage upon every principle of liberty,
forcibly carry them from the better to the worse?

This comparison between the new individuals and the old corps, is made
upon a supposition that no reform could be made in the latter. But, in a
question of reformation, I always consider corporate bodies, whether
sole or consisting of many, to be much more susceptible of a public
direction by the power of the state, in the use of their property, and
in the regulation of modes and habits of life in their members, than
private citizens ever can be, or perhaps ought to be: and this seems to
me a very material consideration for those who undertake anything which
merits the name of a politic enterprise. So far as to the estates of

With regard to the estates possessed by bishops and canons, and
commendatory abbots, I cannot find out for what reason some landed
estates may not be held otherwise than by inheritance. Can any
philosophic spoiler undertake to demonstrate the positive or the
comparative evil of having a certain, and that too a large, portion of
landed property, passing in succession through persons whose title to it
is, always in theory, and often, in fact, an eminent degree of piety,
morals, and learning; a property, which, by its destination, in their
turn, and on the score of merit, gives to the noblest families
renovation and support, to the lowest the means of dignity and
elevation; a property the tenure to which is the performance of some
duty (whatever value you may choose to set upon that duty), and the
character of whose proprietors demands, at least, an exterior decorum,
and gravity of manners; who are to exercise a generous but temperate
hospitality; part of whose income they are to consider as a trust for
charity; and who, even when they fail in their trust, when they slide
from their character, and degenerate into a mere common secular nobleman
or gentleman, are in no respect worse than those who may succeed them in
their forfeited possessions? Is it better that estates should be held by
those who have no duty, than by those who have one?--by those whose
character and destination point to virtues, than by those who have no
rule and direction in the expenditure of their estates but their own
will and appetite? Nor are these estates held altogether in the
character or with the evils supposed inherent in mortmain. They pass
from hand to hand with a more rapid circulation than any other. No
excess is good; and therefore too great a proportion of landed property
may be held officially for life: but it does not seem to me of material
injury to any commonwealth, that there should exist some estates that
have a chance of being acquired by other means than the previous
acquisition of money.


I beg leave to tell him, that mere parsimony is not economy. It is
separable in theory from it; and in fact it may, or it may not, be a
PART of economy, according to circumstances. Expense, and great expense,
may be an essential part in true economy. If parsimony were to be
considered as one of the kinds of that virtue, there is, however,
another and a higher economy. Economy is a distributive virtue, and
consists not in saving, but in selection. Parsimony requires no
providence, no sagacity, no powers of combination, no comparison, no
judgment. Mere instinct, and that not an instinct of the noblest kind,
may produce this false economy in perfection. The other economy has
larger views. It demands a discriminating judgment, and a firm,
sagacious mind. It shuts one door to impudent importunity, only to open
another, and a wider, to unpresuming merit. If none but meritorious
service or real talent were to be rewarded, this nation has not wanted,
and this nation will not want, the means of rewarding all the service it
ever will receive, and encouraging all the merit it ever will produce.
No state, since the foundation of society, has been impoverished by that
species of profusion. Had the economy of selection and proportion been
at all times observed, we should not now have had an overgrown duke of
Bedford, to oppress the industry of humble men, and to limit, by the
standard of his own conceptions, the justice, the bounty, or, if he
pleases, the charity of the crown.


I wish my countrymen rather to recommend to our neighbours the example
of the British constitution, than to take models from them for the
improvement of our own. In the former they have got an invaluable
treasure. They are not, I think, without some causes of apprehension and
complaint; but these they do not owe to their constitution, but to their
own conduct. I think our happy situation owing to our constitution; but
owing to the whole of it, and not to any part singly; owing, in a great
measure, to what we have left standing in our several reviews and
reformations, as well as to what we have altered or superadded. Our
people will find employment enough for a truly patriotic, free, and
independent spirit, in guarding what they possess from violation. I
would not exclude alteration neither; but even when I changed, it should
be to preserve. I should be led to my remedy by a great grievance. In
what I did, I should follow the example of our ancestors. I would make
the reparation as nearly as possible in the style of the building. A
politic caution, a guarded circumspection, a moral rather than a
complexional timidity, were among the ruling principles of our
forefathers in their most decided conduct. Not being illuminated with
the light of which the gentlemen of France tell us they have got so
abundant a share, they acted under a strong impression of the ignorance
and fallibility of mankind. He that had made them thus fallible,
rewarded them for having in their conduct attended to their nature. Let
us imitate their caution, if we wish to deserve their fortune, or to
retain their bequests. Let us add, if we please, but let us preserve
what they have left; and, standing on the firm ground of the British
constitution, let us be satisfied to admire, rather than attempt to
follow in their desperate flights the aeronauts of France.

I have told you candidly my sentiments. I think they are not likely to
alter yours. I do not know that they ought. You are young; you cannot
guide, but must follow the fortune of your country. But hereafter they
may be of some use to you, in some future form which your commonwealth
may take. In the present it can hardly remain; but before its final
settlement it may be obliged to pass, as one of our poets says, "through
great varieties of untried being," and in all its transmigrations to be
purified by fire and blood.


I cannot too often recommend it to the serious consideration of all
men, who think civil society to be within the province of moral
jurisdiction, that if we owe to it any duty, it is not subject to our
will. Duties are not voluntary. Duty and will are even contradictory
terms. Now, though civil society might be at first a voluntary act
(which in many cases it undoubtedly was), its continuance is under a
permanent, standing covenant, co-existing with the society; and it
attaches upon every individual of that society, without any formal
act of his own. This is warranted by the general practice, arising
out of the general sense of mankind. Men without their choice derive
benefits from that association; without their choice they are
subjected to duties in consequence of these benefits; and without
their choice they enter into a virtual obligation as binding as any
that is actual. Look through the whole of life and the whole system
of duties. Much the strongest moral obligations are such as were
never the results of our option. I allow, that if no supreme ruler
exists, wise to form, and potent to enforce, the moral law, there is
no sanction to any contract, virtual or even actual, against the will
of prevalent power. On that hypothesis, let any set of men be strong
enough to set their duties at defiance, and they cease to be duties
any longer. We have but this one appeal against irresistible power--

"Si genus humanum et mortalia temnitis arma,
At sperate Deos memores fandi atque nefandi."

Taking it for granted that I do not write to the disciples of the
Parisian philosophy, I may assume, that the awful Author of our being is
the Author of our place in the order of existence; and that, having
disposed and marshalled us by a divine tactic, not according to our
will, but according to his, he has, in and by that disposition,
virtually subjected us to act the part which belongs to the place
assigned us. We have obligations to mankind at large, which are not in
consequence of any special voluntary pact. They arise from the relation
of man to man, and the relation of man to God, which relations are not
matters of choice. On the contrary, the force of all the pacts which we
enter into with any particular person, or number of persons, amongst
mankind, depends upon those prior obligations. In some cases the
subordinate relations are voluntary, in others they are necessary--but
the duties are all compulsive. When we marry, the choice is voluntary,
but the duties are not matter of choice. They are dictated by the nature
of the situation. Dark and inscrutable are the ways by which we come
into the world. The instincts which give rise to this mysterious process
of nature are not of our making. But out of physical causes, unknown to
us, perhaps unknowable, arise moral duties, which, as we are able
perfectly to comprehend, we are bound indispensably to perform. Parents
may not be consenting to their moral relation; but consenting or not,
they are bound to a long train of burthensome duties towards those with
whom they have never made a convention of any sort. Children are not
consenting to their relation, but their relation, without their actual
consent, binds them to its duties; or rather it implies their consent,
because the presumed consent of every rational creature is in unison
with the predisposed order of things. Men come in that manner into a
community with the social state of their parents, endowed with all the
benefits, loaded with all the duties, of their situation. If the social
ties and ligaments, spun out of those physical relations which are the
elements of the commonwealth, in most cases begin, and alway continue,
independently of our will, so, without any stipulation on our own part,
are we bound by that relation called our country, which comprehends (as
it has been well said) "all the charities of all." Nor are we left
without powerful instincts to make this duty as dear and grateful to us,
as it is awful and coercive. It consists, in a great measure, in the
ancient order into which we are born. We may have the same geographical
situation, but another country; as we may have the same country in
another soil. The place that determines our duty to our country is a
social, civil relation.


The confiscators truly have made some allowance to their victims from
the scraps and fragments of their own tables, from which they have
been so harshly driven, and which have been so bountifully spread for
a feast to the harpies of usury. But to drive men from independence
to live on alms is itself great cruelty. That which might be a
tolerable condition to men in one state of life, and not habituated
to other things, may, when all these circumstances are altered, be a
dreadful revolution; and one to which a virtuous mind would feel pain
in condemning any guilt, except that which would demand the life of
the offender. But to many minds this punishment of DEGRADATION and
INFAMY is worse than death. Undoubtedly it is an infinite aggravation
of this cruel suffering, that the persons who were taught a double
prejudice in favour of religion, by education and by the place they
held in the administration of its functions, are to receive the
remnants of the property as alms from the profane and impious hands
of those who had plundered them of all the rest; to receive (if they
are at all to receive) not from the charitable contributions of the
faithful, but from the insolent tenderness of known and avowed
atheism, the maintenance of religion, measured out to them on the
standard of the contempt in which it is held; and for the purpose of
rendering those who receive the allowance vile, and of no estimation,
in the eyes of mankind.

But this act of seizure of property, it seems, is a judgment in law, and
not a confiscation. They have, it seems, found out in the academies of
the Palais Royal and the Jacobins, that certain men had no right to the
possessions which they held under law, usage, the decisions of courts,
and the accumulated prescription of a thousand years. They say that
ecclesiastics are fictitious persons, creatures of the state, whom at
pleasure they may destroy, and of course limit and modify in every
particular; that the goods they possess are not properly theirs, but
belong to the state which created the fiction; and we are therefore not
to trouble ourselves with what they may suffer in their natural feelings
and natural persons, on account of what is done towards them in this
their constructive character. Of what import is it under what names you
injure men, and deprive them of the just emoluments of a profession, in
which they were not only permitted but encouraged by the state to
engage; and upon the supposed certainty of which emoluments they had
formed the plan of their lives, contracted debts, and led multitudes to
an entire dependence upon them?

You do not imagine, sir, that I am going to compliment this miserable
distinction of persons with any long discussion. The arguments of
tyranny are as contemptible as its force is dreadful. Had not your
confiscators, by their early crimes, obtained a power which secures
indemnity to all the crimes of which they have since been guilty, or
that they can commit, it is not the syllogism of the logician, but the
lash of the executioner, that would have refuted a sophistry which
becomes an accomplice of theft and murder. The sophistic tyrants of
Paris are loud in their declamations against the departed regal tyrants,
who in former ages have vexed the world. They are thus bold, because
they are safe from the dungeons and iron cages of their old masters.
Shall we be more tender of the tyrants of our own time, when we see them
acting worse tragedies under our eyes? shall we not use the same liberty
that they do, when we can use it with the same safety? when to speak
honest truth only requires a contempt of the opinion of those whose
actions we abhor?


We do not draw the moral lessons we might from history. On the contrary,
without care it may be used to vitiate our minds and to destroy our
happiness. In history a great volume is unrolled for our instruction,
drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and
infirmities of mankind. It may, in the perversion, serve for a magazine,
furnishing offensive and defensive weapons for parties in church and
state, and supplying the means of keeping alive, or reviving,
dissensions and animosities, and adding fuel to civil fury. History
consists, for the greater part, of the miseries brought upon the world
by pride, ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, sedition, hypocrisy,
ungoverned zeal, and all the train of disorderly appetites which shake
the public with the same

--"troublous storms that toss
The private state, and render life unsweet."

These vices are the CAUSES of those storms. Religion, morals, laws,
prerogatives, privileges, liberties, rights of men, are the PRETEXTS.
The pretexts are always found in some specious appearance of a real
good. You would not secure men from tyranny and sedition, by rooting out
of the mind the principles to which these fraudulent pretexts apply? If
you did, you would root out everything that is valuable in the human
breast. As these are the pretexts, so the ordinary actors and
instruments in great public evils are kings, priests, magistrates,
senates, parliaments, national assemblies, judges, and captains. You
would not cure the evil by resolving that there should be no more
monarchs, nor ministers of state, nor of the gospel; no interpreters of
law; no general officers; no public councils. You might change the
names. The things in some shape must remain. A certain quantum of power
must always exist in the community, in some hands, and under some
appellation. Wise men will apply their remedies to vices, not to names;
to the causes of evil which are permanent, not to the occasional organs
by which they act, and the transitory modes in which they appear.
Otherwise you will be wise historically,--a fool in practice. Seldom
have two ages the same fashion in their pretexts and the same modes of
mischief. Wickedness is a little more inventive. Whilst you are
discussing fashion, the fashion is gone by. The very same vice assumes a
new body. The spirit transmigrates; and, far from losing its principle
of life by the change of its appearance, it is renovated in its new
organs with the fresh vigour of a juvenile activity. It walks abroad, it
continues its ravages, whilst you are gibbeting the carcase, or
demolishing the tomb. You are terrifying yourselves with ghosts and
apparitions, whilst your house is the haunt of robbers. It is thus with
all those who, attending only to the shell and husk of history, think
they are waging war with intolerance, pride, and cruelty, whilst, under
colour of abhorring the ill principles of antiquated parties, they are
authorizing and feeding the same odious vices in different factions, and
perhaps in worse.


Not that I derogate from the use of history. It is a great improver
of the understanding, by showing both men and affairs in a great
variety of views. From this source much political wisdom may be
learned; that is, may be learned as habit, not as precept; and as an
exercise to strengthen the mind, as furnishing materials to enlarge
and enrich it, not as a repertory of cases and precedents for a
lawyer: if it were, a thousand times better would it be that a
statesman had never learned to read--vellem nescirent literas. This
method turns their understanding from the object before them, and
from the present exigencies of the world, to comparisons with former
times, of which, after all, we can know very little, and very
imperfectly; and our guides, the historians, who are to give us their
true interpretation, are often prejudiced, often ignorant, often
fonder of system than of truth. Whereas, if a man with reasonably
good parts and natural sagacity, and not in the leading-strings of
any master, will look steadily on the business before him, without
being diverted by retrospect and comparison, he may be capable of
forming a reasonably good judgment of what is to be done. There are
some fundamental points in which nature never changes--but they are
few and obvious, and belong rather to morals than to politics. But so
far as regards political matter, the human mind and human affairs are
susceptible of infinite modifications, and of combinations wholly new
and unlooked for. Very few, for instance, could have imagined that
property, which has been taken for natural dominion, should, through
the whole of a vast kingdom, lose all its importance and even its
influence. This is what history or books of speculation could hardly
have taught us. How many could have thought, that the most complete
and formidable revolution in a great empire should be made by men of
letters, not as subordinate instruments and trumpeters of sedition,
but as the chief contrivers and managers, and in a short time as the
open administrators and sovereign rulers? Who could have imagined
that atheism could produce one of the most violently operative
principles of fanaticism? Who could have imagined that, in a
commonwealth in a manner cradled in war, and in extensive and
dreadful war, military commanders should be of little or no account?
That the Convention should not contain one military man of name? That
administrative bodies in a state of the utmost confusion, and of but
a momentary duration, and composed of men with not one imposing part
of character, should be able to govern the country and its armies
with an authority which the most settled senates, and the most
respected monarchs, scarcely ever had in the same degree? This, for
one, I confess I did not foresee, though all the rest was present to
me very early, and not out of my apprehension even for several years.


Society is indeed a contract. Subordinate contracts for objects of mere
occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure--but the state ought
not to be considered nothing better than a partnership agreement in a
trade of pepper and coffee, calico or tobacco, or some other such low
concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and to be
dissolved by the fancy of the parties. It is to be looked on with other
reverence; because it is not a partnership in things subservient only to
the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a
partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in
every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership
cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not
only between those who are living, but between those who are living,
those who are dead, and those who are to be born. Each contract of each
particular state is but a clause in the great primeval contract of
eternal society, linking the lower with the higher natures, connecting
the visible and invisible world, according to a fixed compact sanctioned
by the inviolable oath which holds all physical and all moral natures
each in their appointed place. This law is not subject to the will of
those, who by an obligation above them, and infinitely superior, are
bound to submit their will to that law. The municipal corporations of
that universal kingdom are not morally at liberty at their pleasure, and
on their speculations of a contingent improvement, wholly to separate
and tear asunder the bands of their subordinate community, and to
dissolve it into an unsocial, uncivil, unconnected chaos of elementary
principles. It is the first and supreme necessity only, a necessity that
is not chosen, but chooses, a necessity paramount to deliberation, that
admits no discussion, and demands no evidence, which alone can justify a
resort to anarchy. This necessity is no exception to the rule; because
this necessity itself is a part too of that moral and physical
disposition of things to which man must be obedient by consent of force:
but if that which is only submission to necessity should be made the
object of choice, the law is broken, nature is disobeyed, and the
rebellious are outlawed, cast forth, and exiled from this world of
reason, and order, and peace, and virtue, and fruitful penitence, into
the antagonist world of madness, discord, vice, confusion, and
unavailing sorrow.


The crown has considered me after long service; the crown has paid the
duke of Bedford by advance. He has had a long credit for any service
which he may perform hereafter. He is secure, and long may he be secure,
in his advance, whether he performs any services or not. But let him
take care how he endangers the safety of that constitution which secures
his own utility or his own insignificance; or how he discourages those
who take up even puny arms to defend an order of things which, like the
sun of heaven, shines alike on the useful and the worthless. His grants
are engrafted on the public law of Europe, covered with the awful hoar
of innumerable ages. They are guarded by the sacred rules of
prescription, found in that full treasury of jurisprudence from which
the jejuneness and penury of our municipal law has, by degrees, been
enriched and strengthened. This prescription I had my share (a very full
share) in bringing to its perfection. The duke of Bedford will stand as
long as prescriptive law endures; as long as the great stable laws of
property, common to us with all civilized nations, are kept in their
integrity, and without the smallest intermixture of laws, maxims,
principles, or precedents, of the grand revolution. They are secure
against all changes but one. The whole revolutionary system, institutes,
digest, code, novels, text, gloss, comment, are not only not the same,
but they are the very reverse, and the reverse fundamentally, of all the
laws, on which civil life has hitherto been upheld in all the
governments of the world. The learned professors of the rights of man
regard prescription not as a title to bar all claim, set up against all
possession, but they look on prescription as itself a bar against the
possessor and proprietor. They hold an immemorial possession to be no
more than a long-continued, and therefore an aggravated injustice.

Such are THEIR ideas, such THEIR religion, and such THEIR law. But as to
OUR country and OUR race, as long as the well-compacted structure of our
church and state, the sanctuary, the holy of holies of that ancient law,
defended by reverence, defended by power, a fortress at once and a
temple, shall stand inviolate on the brow of the British Sion; as long
as the British monarchy, not more limited than fenced by the orders of
the state, shall, like the proud Keep of Windsor, rising in the majesty
of proportion, and girt with the double belt of its kindred and coeval
towers,--as long as this awful structure shall oversee and guard the
subjected land--so long the mounds and dykes of the low, fat Bedford
Level will have nothing to fear from all the pickaxes of all the
levellers of France. As long as our sovereign lord the king, and his
faithful subjects, the lords and commons of this realm,--the triple
cord, which no man can break; the solemn, sworn, constitutional
frank-pledge of this nation; the firm guarantees of each other's being,
and each other's rights; the joint and several securities, each in its
place and order, for every kind and every quality, of property and of
dignity:--as long as these endure, so long the duke of Bedford is safe:
and we are all safe together--the high from the blights of envy and the
spoliations of rapacity; the low from the iron hand of oppression and
the insolent spurn of contempt. Amen! and so be it: and so it will be,--

"Dum domus Aeneae Capitoli immobile saxum
Accolet; imperiumque pater Romanus habebit."


Novelty is not the only source of zeal. Why should not a Maccabeus
and his brethren arise to assert the honour of the ancient law, and
to defend the temple of their forefathers, with as ardent a spirit as
can inspire any innovator to destroy the monuments of the piety and
the glory of ancient ages? It is not a hazarded assertion, it is a
great truth, that when once things are gone out of their ordinary
course, it is by acts out of the ordinary course they can alone be
re-established. Republican spirit can only be combated by a spirit of
the same nature: of the same nature, but informed with another
principle, and pointing to another end. I would persuade a
resistance, both to the corruption and to the reformation that
prevails. It will not be the weaker, but much the stronger, for
combating both together. A victory over real corruptions would enable
us to baffle the spurious and pretended reformations. I would not
wish to excite, or even to tolerate, that kind of evil spirit which
invokes the powers of hell to rectify the disorders of the earth. No!
I would add my voice with better, and I trust, more potent charms, to
draw down justice and wisdom and fortitude from heaven, for the
correction of human vice, and the recalling of human error from the
devious ways into which it has been betrayed. I would wish to call
the impulses of individuals at once to the aid and to the control of
authority. By this, which I call the true republican spirit,
paradoxical as it may appear, monarchies alone can be rescued from
the imbecility of courts and the madness of the crowd. This
republican spirit would not suffer men in high place to bring ruin on
their country and on themselves. It would reform, not by destroying,
but by saving, the great, the rich, and the powerful. Such a
republican spirit, we perhaps fondly conceive to have animated the
distinguished heroes and patriots of old, who knew no mode of policy
but religion and virtue. These they would have paramount to all
constitutions; they would not suffer monarchs, or senates, or popular
assemblies, under pretences of dignity, or authority, or freedom, to
shake off those moral riders which reason has appointed to govern
every sort of rude power. These, in appearance loading them by their
weight, do by that pressure augment their essential force. The
momentum is increased by the extraneous weight. It is true in moral,
as it is in mechanical science. It is true, not only in the draught,
but in the race. These riders of the great, in effect, hold the reins
which guide them in their course, and wear the spur that stimulates
them to the goals of honour and of safety. The great must submit to
the dominion of prudence and of virtue, or none will long submit to
the dominion of the great.

"Dis te minorem quod geris imperas."

This is the feudal tenure which they cannot alter.


The revenue of the state is the state. In effect all depends upon it,
whether for support or for reformation. The dignity of every occupation
wholly depends upon the quantity and the kind of virtue that may be
exerted in it. As all great qualities of the mind which operate in
public, and are not merely suffering and passive, require force for
their display, I had almost said for their unequivocal existence, the
revenue, which is the spring of all power, becomes in its administration
the sphere of every active virtue. Public virtue, being of a nature
magnificent and splendid, instituted for great things, and conversant
about great concerns, requires abundant scope and room, and cannot
spread and grow under confinement, and in circumstances straitened,
narrow, and sordid. Through the revenue alone the body politic can act
in its true genius and character, and therefore it will display just as
much of its collective virtue, and as much of that virtue which may
characterize those who move it, and are, as it were, its life and
guiding principle, as it is possessed of a just revenue. For from hence
not only magnanimity, and liberality, and beneficence, and fortitude,
and providence, and the tutelary protection of all good arts, derive
their food, and the growth of their organs, but continence, and
self-denial, and labour, and vigilance, and frugality, and whatever else
there is in which the mind shows itself above the appetite, are nowhere
more in their proper element than in the provision and distribution of
the public wealth. It is therefore not without reason that the science
of speculative and practical finance, which must take to its aid so many
auxiliary branches of knowledge, stands high in the estimation, not only
of the ordinary sort, but of the wisest and best men; and as this
science has grown with the progress of its object, the prosperity and
improvement of nations has generally increased with the increase of
their revenues; and they will both continue to grow and flourish, as
long as the balance between what is left to strengthen the efforts of
individuals, and what is collected for the common efforts of the state,
bear to each other a due reciprocal proportion, and are kept in a close
correspondence and communication.


These philosophers are fanatics; independent of any interest, which
if it operated alone would make them much more tractable, they are
carried with such a headlong rage towards every desperate trial, that
they would sacrifice the whole human race to the slightest of their
experiments. I am better able to enter into the character of this
description of men than the noble duke can be. I have lived long and
variously in the world. Without any considerable pretensions to
literature in myself, I have aspired to the love of letters. I have
lived for a great many years in habitudes with those who professed
them. I can form a tolerable estimate of what is likely to happen
from a character chiefly dependent for fame and fortune on knowledge
and talent, as well in its morbid and perverted state as in that
which is sound and natural. Naturally, men so formed and finished are
the first gifts of Providence to the world. But when they have once
thrown off the fear of God, which was in all ages too often the case,
and the fear of men, which is now the case, and when in that state
they come to understand one another, and to act in corps, a more
dreadful calamity cannot arise out of hell to scourge mankind.
Nothing can be conceived more hard than the heart of a thorough-bred
metaphysician. It comes nearer to the cold malignity of a wicked
spirit than to the frailty and passion of a man. It is like that of
the principle of evil himself, incorporeal, pure, unmixed,
dephlegmated, defecated evil. It is no easy operation to eradicate
humanity from the human breast. What Shakespeare calls "the
compunctious visitings of nature," will sometimes knock at their
hearts, and protest against their murderous speculations. But they
have a means of compounding with their nature. Their humanity is not
dissolved. They only give it a long prorogation. They are ready to
declare, that they do not think two thousand years too long a period
for the good that they pursue. It is remarkable, that they never see
any way to their projected good but by the road of some evil. Their
imagination is not fatigued with the contemplation of human suffering
through the wild waste of centuries added to centuries of misery and
desolation. Their humanity is at their horizon--and, like the
horizon, it always flies before them. The geometricians and the
chemists bring the one from the dry bones of their diagrams, and the
other from the soot of their furnaces, dispositions that make them
worse than indifferent about those feelings and habitudes which are
the supports of the moral world. Ambition is come upon them suddenly;
they are intoxicated with it, and it has rendered them fearless of
the danger which may from thence arise to others or to themselves.
These philosophers consider men in their experiments no more than
they do mice in an air-pump, or in a recipient of mephitic gas.
Whatever his grace may think of himself, they look upon him, and
everything that belongs to him, with no more regard than they do upon
the whiskers of that little long-tailed animal, that has been long
the game of the grave, demure, insidious, spring-nailed,
velvet-pawed, green-eyed philosophers, whether going upon two legs or
upon four.


I really am at a loss to draw any sort of parallel between the public
merits of his grace, by which he justifies the grants he holds, and
these services of mine, on the favourable construction of which I have
obtained what his grace so much disapproves. In private life, I have not
at all the honour of acquaintance with the noble duke. But I ought to
presume, and it costs me nothing to do so, that he abundantly deserves
the esteem and love of all who live with him. But as to public service,
why truly it would not be more ridiculous for me to compare myself in
rank, in fortune, in splendid descent, in youth, strength, or figure,
with the duke of Bedford, than to make a parallel between his services
and my attempts to be useful to my country. It would not be gross
adulation, but uncivil irony, to say, that he has any public merit of
his own to keep alive the idea of the services by which his vast landed
pensions were obtained. My merits, whatever they are, are original and
personal; his are derivative. It is his ancestor, the original
pensioner, that has laid up this inexhaustible fund of merit, which
makes his grace so very delicate and exceptious about the merit of all
other grantees of the crown. Had he permitted me to remain in quiet, I
should have said, 'Tis his estate; that's enough. It is his by law; what
have I to do with it or its history? He would naturally have said on his
side, 'Tis this man's fortune. He is as good now as my ancestor was two
hundred and fifty years ago. I am a young man with very old pensions: he
is an old man with very young pensions,--that's all. Why will his grace,
by attacking me, force me reluctantly to compare my little merit with
that which obtained from the crown those prodigies of profuse donation
by which he tramples on the mediocrity of humble and laborious
individuals? I would willingly leave him to the herald's college, which
the philosophy of the sans culottes (prouder by far than all the
Garters, and Norroys, and Clarencieux, and Rouge Dragons, that ever
pranced in a procession of what his friends call aristocrats and
despots) will abolish with contumely and scorn. These historians,
recorders, and blazoners of virtues and arms, differ wholly from that
other description of historians, who never assign any act of politicians
to a good motive. These gentle historians, on the contrary, dip their
pens in nothing but the milk of human kindness. They seek no further for
merit than the preamble of a patent, or the inscription of a tomb. With
them every man created a peer is first a hero ready made. They judge of
every man's capacity for office by the offices he has filled; and the
more offices, the more ability. Every general-officer with them is a
Marlborough; every statesman a Burleigh; every judge a Murray or a
Yorke. They who, alive, were laughed at or pitied by all their
acquaintance, make as good a figure as the best of them in the pages of
Guillim, Edmondson, and Collins.


But the institutions savour of superstition in their very principle; and
they nourish it by a permanent and standing influence. This I do not
mean to dispute; but this ought not to hinder you from deriving from
superstition itself any resources which may thence be furnished for the
public advantage. You derive benefits from many dispositions and many
passions of the human mind, which are of as doubtful a colour, in the
moral eye, as superstition itself. It was your business to correct and
mitigate everything which was noxious in this passion, as in all the
passions. But is superstition the greatest of all possible vices? In its
possible excess I think it becomes a very great evil. It is, however, a
moral subject; and of course admits of all degrees and all
modifications. Superstition is the religion of feeble minds; and they
must be tolerated in an intermixture of it, in some trifling or some
enthusiastic shape or other, else you will deprive weak minds of a
resource found necessary to the strongest. The body of all true religion
consists, to be sure, in obedience to the will of the Sovereign of the
world; in a confidence in his declarations, and in imitation of his
perfections. The rest is our own. It may be prejudicial to the great
end; it may be auxiliary. Wise men, who as such are not ADMIRERS (not
admirers at least of the munera terrae), are not violently attached to
these things, nor do they violently hate them. Wisdom is not the most
severe corrector of folly. They are the rival follies, which mutually
wage so unrelenting a war; and which make so cruel a use of their
advantages, as they can happen to engage the immoderate vulgar, on the
one side, or the other, in their quarrels. Prudence would be neuter; but
if, in the contention between fond attachment and fierce antipathy
concerning things in their nature not made to produce such heats, a
prudent man were obliged to make a choice of what errors and excesses of
enthusiasm he would condemn or bear, perhaps he would think the
superstition which builds, to be more tolerable than that which
demolishes; that which adorns a country, than that which deforms it;
that which endows, than that which plunders; that which disposes to
mistaken beneficence, than that which stimulates to real injustice; that
which leads a man to refuse to himself lawful pleasures, than that which
snatches from others the scanty subsistence of their self-denial. Such,
I think, is very nearly the state of the question between the ancient
founders of monkish superstition, and the superstition of the pretended
philosophers of the hour.


There are moments in the fortune of states when particular men are
called to make improvements by great mental exertion. In those
moments, even when they seem to enjoy the confidence of their prince
and country, and to be invested with full authority, they have not
always apt instruments. A politician, to do great things, looks for a
POWER, what our workmen call a PURCHASE; and if he finds that power,
in politics as in mechanics, he cannot be at a loss to apply it. In
the monastic institutions, in my opinion, was found a great POWER for
the mechanism of politic benevolence. There were revenues with a
public direction; there were men wholly set apart and dedicated to
public purposes, without any other than public ties and public
principles; men without the possibility of converting the estate of
the community into a private fortune; men denied to self-interests,
whose avarice is for some community; men to whom personal poverty is
honour, and implicit obedience stands in the place of freedom. In
vain shall a man look to the possibility of making such things when
he wants them. The winds blow as they list. These institutions are
the products of enthusiasm; they are the instruments of wisdom.
Wisdom cannot create materials; they are the gifts of nature or of
chance; her pride is in the use. The perennial existence of bodies
corporate and their fortunes are things particularly suited to a man
who has long views; who meditates designs that require time in
fashioning, and which propose duration when they are accomplished. He
is not deserving to rank high, or even to be mentioned in the order
of great statesmen, who, having obtained the command and direction of
such a power as existed in the wealth, the discipline, and the habits
of such corporations, as those which you have rashly destroyed,
cannot find any way of converting it to the great and lasting benefit
of his country. On the view of this subject, a thousand uses suggest
themselves to a contriving mind. To destroy any power, growing wild
from the rank productive force of the human mind, is almost
tantamount, in the moral world, to the destruction of the apparently
active properties of bodies in the material. It would be like the
attempt to destroy (if it were in our competence to destroy) the
expansive force of fixed air in nitre, or the power of steam, or of
electricity, or of magnetism. These energies always existed in
nature, and they were always discernible. They seemed, some of them
unserviceable, some noxious, some no better than a sport to children;
until contemplative ability, combining with practic skill, tamed
their wild nature, subdued them to use, and rendered them at once the
most powerful and the most tractable agents, in subservience to the
great views and designs of men. Did fifty thousand persons, whose
mental and whose bodily labour you might direct, and so many hundred
thousand a year of a revenue, which was neither lazy nor
superstitious, appear too big for your abilities to wield? Had you no
way of using the men but by converting monks into pensioners? Had you
no way of turning the revenue to account but through the improvident
resource of a spendthrift sale? If you were thus destitute of mental
funds, the proceeding is in its natural course. Your politicians do
not understand their trade; and therefore they sell their tools.


"Protestantism of the English Church," very indefinite, because the term
PROTESTANT, which you apply, is too general for the conclusions which
one of your accurate understanding would wish to draw from it; and
because a great deal of argument will depend on the use that is made of
that term. It is NOT a fundamental part of the settlement at the
Revolution, that the state should be protestant without ANY
QUALIFICATION OF THE TERM. With a qualification it is unquestionably
true; not in all its latitude. With the qualification, it was true
before the Revolution. Our predecessors in legislation were not so
irrational (not to say impious) as to form an operose ecclesiastical
establishment, and even to render the state itself in some degree
subservient to it, when their religion (if such it might be called) was
nothing but a mere NEGATION of some other--without any positive idea
either of doctrine, discipline, worship, or morals, in the scheme which
they professed themselves, and which they imposed upon others, even
under penalties and incapacities.--No! no! This never could have been
done even by reasonable atheists. They who think religion of no
importance to the state, have abandoned it to the conscience or caprice
of the individual; they make no provision for it whatsoever, but leave
every club to make, or not, a voluntary contribution towards its
support, according to their fancies. This would be consistent. The other
always appeared to me to be a monster of contradiction and absurdity. It
was for that reason that, some years ago, I strenuously opposed the
clergy who petitioned, to the number of about three hundred, to be freed
from the subscription to the thirty-nine articles, without proposing to
substitute any other in their place. There never has been a religion of
the state (the few years of the Parliament only excepted), but that of
THE ESPISCOPAL CHURCH OF ENGLAND; the Episcopal Church of England,
before the Reformation, connected with the see of Rome, since then,
disconnected and protesting against some of her doctrines, and against
the whole of her authority, as binding in our national church: nor did
the fundamental laws of this kingdom (in Ireland it has been the same)
ever know, at any period, any other church AS AN OBJECT OF
ESTABLISHMENT; or in that light, any other protestant religion. Nay, our
protestant TOLERATION itself at the Revolution, and until within a few
years, required a signature of thirty-six, and a part of the
thirty-seventh, out of the thirty-nine articles. So little idea had they
at the Revolution of ESTABLISHING Protestantism indefinitely, that they
did not indefinitely TOLERATE it under that name. I do not mean to
praise that strictness, where nothing more than merely religious
toleration is concerned. Toleration, being a part of moral and political
prudence, ought to be tender and large. A tolerant government ought not
to be too scrupulous in its investigations; but may bear without blame,
not only very ill-grounded doctrines, but even many things that are
positively vices, where they are adulta et praevalida. The good of the
commonwealth is the rule which rides over the rest; and to this every
other must completely submit.


A brave people will certainly prefer liberty accompanied with a virtuous
poverty to a depraved and wealthy servitude. But before the price of
comfort and opulence is paid, one ought to be pretty sure it is real
liberty which is purchased, and that she is to be purchased at no other
price. I shall always, however, consider that liberty as very equivocal
in her appearance, which has not wisdom and justice for her companions,
and does not lead prosperity and plenty in her train.


When I assert anything else, as concerning the people of England, I
speak from observation, not from authority; but I speak from the
experience I have had in a pretty extensive and mixed communication
with the inhabitants of this kingdom, of all descriptions and ranks,
and after a course of attentive observation, begun in early life, and
continued for nearly forty years. I have often been astonished,
considering that we are divided from you but by a slender dyke of
about twenty-four miles, and that the mutual intercourse between the
two countries has lately been very great, to find how little you seem
to know of us. I suspect that this is owing to your forming a
judgment of this nation from certain publications, which do, very
erroneously, if they do at all, represent the opinions and
dispositions generally prevalent in England. The vanity,
restlessness, petulance, and spirit of intrigue, of several petty
cabals, who attempt to hide their total want of consequence in bustle
and noise, and puffing, and mutual quotation of each other, makes you
imagine that our contemptuous neglect of their abilities is a general
mark of acquiescence in their opinions. No such thing, I assure you.
Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring
with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle,
reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are
silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the
only inhabitants of the field; that, of course, they are many in
number; or that, after all, they are other than the little,
shrivelled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of
the hour.


When the supreme authority of the people is in question, before we
attempt to extend or to confine it, we ought to fix in our minds, with
some degree of distinctness, an idea of what it is we mean when we say

In a state of RUDE nature there is no such thing as a people. A number
of men in themselves have no collective capacity. The idea of a people
is the idea of a corporation. It is wholly artificial; and made like all
other legal fictions by common agreement. What the particular nature of
that agreement was, is collected from the form into which the particular
society has been cast. Any other is not THEIR covenant. When men,
therefore, break up the original compact or agreement, which gives its
corporate form and capacity to a state, they are no longer a people;
they have no longer a corporate existence; they have no longer a legal,
coactive force to bind within, nor a claim to be recognised abroad. They
are a number of vague, loose individuals, and nothing more. With them
all is to begin again. Alas! they little know how many a weary step is
to be taken before they can form themselves into a mass, which has a
true, politic personality.

We hear much from men, who have not acquired their hardness of assertion
from the profundity of their thinking, about the omnipotence of a
MAJORITY, in such a dissolution of an ancient society as hath taken
place in France. But amongst men so disbanded, there can be no such
thing as majority or minority; or power in any one person to bind
another. The power of acting by a majority, which the gentlemen
theorists seem to assume so readily, after they have violated the
contract out of which it has arisen (if at all it existed), must be
grounded on two assumptions; first, that of an incorporation produced by
unanimity; and, secondly, an unanimous agreement, that the act of a mere
majority (say of one) shall pass with them and with others as the act of
the whole.

We are so little affected by things which are habitual, that we consider
this idea of the decision of a MAJORITY as if it were a law of our
original nature; but such constructive whole, residing in a part only,
is one of the most violent fictions of positive law that ever has been
or can be made on the principles of artificial incorporation. Out of
civil society nature knows nothing of it; nor are men, even when
arranged according to civil order, otherwise than by very long training,
brought at all to submit to it. The mind is brought far more easily to
acquiesce in the proceedings of one man, or a few, who act under a
general procuration for the state, than in the vote of a victorious
majority in councils, in which every man has his share in the
deliberation. For there the beaten party are exasperated and soured by
the previous contention, and mortified by the conclusive defeat. This
mode of decision, where wills may be so nearly equal, where, according
to circumstances, the smaller number may be the stronger force, and
where apparent reason may be all upon one side, and on the other little
else than impetuous appetite; all this must be the result of a very
particular and special convention, confirmed afterwards by long habits
of obedience, by a sort of discipline in society, and by a strong hand,
vested with stationary, permanent power, to enforce this sort of
constructive general will. What organ it is that shall declare the
corporate mind is so much a matter of positive arrangement, that several
states, for the validity of several of their acts, have required a
proportion of voices much greater than that of a mere majority. These
proportions are so entirely governed by convention, that in some cases
the minority decides.


I do not accuse the people of England. As to the great majority of
the nation, they have done whatever in their several ranks, and
conditions, and descriptions, was required of them by their relative
situations in society; and from those the great mass of mankind
cannot depart, without the subversion of all public order. They look
up to that government which they obey that they may be protected.
They ask to be led and directed by those rulers whom Providence and
the laws of their country have set over them, and under their
guidance to walk in the ways of safety and honour. They have again
delegated the greatest trust which they have to bestow to those
faithful representatives who made their true voice heard against the
disturbers and destroyers of Europe. They suffered, with unapproving
acquiescence, solicitations which they had in no shape desired, to an
unjust and usurping power whom they had never provoked, and whose
hostile menaces they did not dread. When the exigencies of the public
service could only be met by their voluntary zeal, they started forth
with an ardour which out-stripped the wishes of those who had injured
them by doubting whether it might not be necessary to have recourse
to compulsion. They have, in all things, reposed an enduring, but not
an unreflecting, confidence. That confidence demands a full return,
and fixes a responsibility on the ministers entire and undivided. The
people stands acquitted, if the war is not carried on in a manner
suited to its objects. If the public honour is tarnished, if the
public safety suffers any detriment, the ministers, not the people,
are to answer it, and they alone. Its armies, its navies, are given
to them without stint or restriction. Its treasures are poured out at
their feet. Its constancy is ready to second all their efforts. They
are not to fear a responsibility for acts of manly adventure. The
responsibility which they are to dread is, lest they should show
themselves unequal to the expectation of a brave people. The more
doubtful may be the constitutional and economical questions upon
which they have received so marked a support, the more loudly they
are called upon to support this great war, for the success of which
their country is willing to supersede considerations of no slight
importance. Where I speak of responsibility, I do not mean to exclude
that species of it which the legal powers of the country have a right
finally to exact from those who abuse a public trust; but high as
this is, there is a responsibility which attaches on them, from which
the whole legitimate power of this kingdom cannot absolve them: there
is a responsibility to conscience and to glory; a responsibility to
the existing world, and to that posterity which men of their eminence
cannot avoid for glory or for shame; a responsibility to a tribunal
at which not only ministers, but kings and parliaments, but even
nations themselves, must one day answer.


We know, and what is better, we feel inwardly, that religion is the
basis of civil society, and the source of all good and of all comfort.
In England we are so convinced of this, that there is no rust of
superstition with which the accumulated absurdity of the human mind
might have crusted it over in the course of ages, that ninety-nine in a
hundred of the people of England would not prefer to impiety. We shall
never be such fools as to call in an enemy to the substance of any
system to remove its corruptions, to supply its defects, or to perfect
its construction. If our religious tenets should ever want a further
elucidation, we shall not call on atheism to explain them. We shall not
light up our temple from that unhallowed fire. It will be illuminated
with other lights. It will be perfumed with other incense than the
infectious stuff which is imported by the smugglers of adulterated
metaphysics. If our ecclesiastical establishment should want a revision,
it is not avarice or rapacity, public or private, that we shall employ
for the audit, or receipt, or application of its consecrated revenue.
Violently condemning neither the Greek nor the Armenian, nor, since
heats are subsided, the Roman system of religion, we prefer the
Protestant; not because we think it has less of the Christian religion
in it, but because, in our judgment, it has more. We are Protestants,
not from indifference, but from zeal. We know, and it is our pride to
know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism
is against, not only our reason, but our instincts; and that it cannot
prevail long. But if, in the moment of riot, and in a drunken delirium
from the hot spirit drawn out of the alembic of hell, which in France is
now so furiously boiling, we should uncover our nakedness, by throwing
off that Christian religion which has hitherto been our boast and
comfort, and one great source of civilization amongst us, and among many
other nations, we are apprehensive (being well aware that the mind will
not endure a void) that some uncouth, pernicious, and degrading
superstition might take place of it.


It is undoubtedly true, though it may seem paradoxical, but in general,
those who are habitually employed in finding and displaying faults, are
unqualified for the work of reformation; because their minds are not
only unfurnished with patterns of the fair and good, but by habit they
come to take no delight in the contemplation of those things. By hating
vices too much, they come to love men too little. It is therefore not
wonderful that they should be indisposed and unable to serve them. From
hence arises the complexional disposition of some of your guides to pull
everything in pieces. At this malicious game they display the whole of
their quadrimanous activity. As to the rest, the paradoxes of eloquent
writers, brought forth purely as a sport of fancy, to try their talents,
to rouse attention and excite surprise, are taken up by these gentleman,
not in the spirit of the original authors, as means of cultivating their
taste and improving their style. These paradoxes become with them
serious grounds of action, upon which they proceed in regulating the
most important concerns of the state. Cicero ludicrously describes Cato
as endeavouring to act, in the commonwealth, upon the school paradoxes,
which exercised the wits of the junior students in the Stoic philosophy.
If this was true of Cato, these gentlemen copy after him in the manner
of some persons who lived about his time--pede nudo Catonem. Mr. Hume
told me that he had from Rousseau himself the secret of his principles
of composition. That acute, though eccentric observer, had perceived,
that to strike and interest the public, the marvellous must be produced;
that the marvellous of the heathen mythology had long since lost its
effects; that giants, magicians, fairies, and heroes of romance which
succeeded, had exhausted the portion of credulity which belonged to
their age; that now nothing was left to a writer but that species of the
marvellous which might still be produced, and with as great an effect as
ever, though in another way; that is, the marvellous in life, in
manners, in characters, and in extraordinary situations, giving rise to
new and unlooked-for strokes in politics and morals. I believe, that
were Rousseau alive, and in one of his lucid intervals, he would be
shocked at the practical frenzy of his scholars, who in their paradoxes
are servile imitators, and even in their incredulity discover an
implicit faith.


Mankind has no title to demand that we should be slaves to their
guilt and insolence; or that we should serve them in spite of
themselves. Minds, sore with the poignant sense of insulted virtue,
filled with high disdain against the pride of triumphant baseness,
often have it not in their choice to stand their ground. Their
complexion (which might defy the rack) cannot go through such a
trial. Something very high must fortify men to that proof. But when I
am driven to comparison, surely I cannot hesitate for a moment to
prefer to such men as are common, those heroes who, in the midst of
despair, perform all the tasks of hope; who subdue their feelings to
their duties; who, in the cause of humanity, liberty, and honour,
abandon all the satisfactions of life, and every day incur a fresh
risk of life itself. Do me the justice to believe that I never can
prefer any fastidious virtue (virtue still) to the unconquered
perseverance, to the affectionate patience of those who watch day and
night by the bedside of their delirious country, who, for their love
to that dear and venerable name, bear all the disgusts and all the
buffets they receive from their frantic mother. Sir, I do look on you
as true martyrs; I regard you as soldiers who act far more in the
spirit of our Commander-in-Chief and the Captain of our salvation,
than those who have left you; though I must first bolt myself very
thoroughly, and know that I could do better, before I can censure
them. I assure you, sir, that, when I consider your unconquerable
fidelity to your sovereign, and to your country; the courage,
fortitude, magnanimity, and long-suffering of yourself, and the Abbe
Maury, and of Mr. Cazales, and of many worthy persons of all orders
in your Assembly, I forget, in the lustre of these great qualities,
that on your side has been displayed an eloquence so rational, manly,
and convincing, that no time or country, perhaps, has ever excelled.
But your talents disappear in my admiration of your virtues.


When I consider the face of the kingdom of France; the multitude and
opulence of her cities; the useful magnificence of her spacious
high-roads and bridges; the opportunity of her artificial canals and
navigations, opening the conveniences of maritime communication through
a solid continent of so immense an extent; when I turn my eyes to the
stupendous works of her ports and harbours, and to her whole naval
apparatus, whether for war or trade; when I bring before my view the
number of her fortifications, constructed with so bold and masterly a
skill, and made and maintained at so prodigious a charge, presenting an
armed front and impenetrable barrier to her enemies upon every side;
when I recollect how very small a part of that extensive region is
without cultivation, and to what complete perfection the culture of many
of the best productions of the earth have been brought in France; when I
reflect on the excellence of her manufactures and fabrics, second to
none but ours, and in some particulars not second; when I contemplate
the grand foundations of charity, public and private; when I survey the
state of all the arts that beautify and polish life; when I reckon the
men she has bred for extending her fame in war, her able statesmen, the
multitude of her profound lawyers and theologians, her philosophers, her
critics, her historians and antiquaries, her poets and her orators,
sacred and profane; I behold in all this something which awes and
commands the imagination, which checks the mind on the brink of
precipitate and indiscriminate censure, and which demands that we should
very seriously examine, what and how great are the latent vices that
could authorize us at once to level so specious a fabric with the
ground. I do not recognise in this view of things, the despotism of
Turkey. Nor do I discern the character of a government that has been, on
the whole, so oppressive, or so corrupt, or so negligent, as to be
utterly UNFIT FOR ALL REFORMATION. I must think such a government well
deserved to have its excellences heightened, its faults corrected, and
its capacities improved into a British constitution.


This shows, in my opinion, how very quick and awakened all men ought
to be who are looked up to by the public, and who deserve that
confidence, to prevent a surprise on their opinions, when dogmas are
spread, and projects pursued, by which the foundations of society may
be affected. Before they listen even to moderate alterations in the
government of their country, they ought to take care that principles
are not propagated for that purpose, which are too big for their
object. Doctrines limited in their present application, and wide in
their general principles, are never meant to be confined to what they
at first pretend. If I were to form a prognostic of the effect of the
present machinations on the people, from their sense of any grievance
they suffer under this constitution, my mind would be at ease. But
there is a wide difference between the multitude, when they act
against their government from a sense of grievance, or from zeal for
some opinions. When men are thoroughly possessed with that zeal, it
is difficult to calculate its force. It is certain that its power is
by no means in exact proportion to its reasonableness. It must always
have been discoverable by persons of reflection, but it is now
obvious to the world, that a theory concerning government may become
as much a cause of fanaticism as a dogma in religion. There is a
boundary to men's passions when they act from feeling; none when they
are under the influence of imagination. Remove a grievance, and, when
men act from feeling, you go a great way towards quieting a
commotion. But the good or bad conduct of a government, the
protection men have enjoyed, or the oppression they have suffered,
under it, are of no sort of moment when a faction, proceeding upon
speculative grounds, is thoroughly heated against its form. When a
man is, from system, furious against monarchy or episcopacy, the good
conduct of the monarch or the bishop has no other effect than further
to irritate the adversary. He is provoked at it, as furnishing a plea
for preserving the thing which he wishes to destroy. His mind will
be heated as much by the sight of a sceptre, a mace, or a verge, as
if he had been daily bruised and wounded by these symbols of
authority. Mere spectacles, mere names, will become sufficient causes
to stimulate the people to war and tumult.


Let us not deceive ourselves: we are at the beginning of great troubles.
I readily acknowledge that the state of public affairs is infinitely
more unpromising than at the period I have just now alluded to; and the
position of all the powers of Europe, in relation to us, and in relation
to each other, is more intricate and critical beyond all comparison.
Difficult indeed is our situation. In all situations of difficulty men
will be influenced in the part they take, not only by the reason of the
case, but by the peculiar turn of their own character. The same ways to
safety do not present themselves to all men, nor to the same men in
different tempers. There is a courageous wisdom; there is also a false,
reptile prudence, the result not of caution, but of fear. Under
misfortunes it often happens that the nerves of the understanding are so
relaxed, the pressing peril of the hour so completely confounds all the
faculties, that no future danger can be properly provided for, can be
justly estimated, can be so much as fully seen. The eye of the mind is
dazzled and vanquished. An abject distrust of ourselves, an extravagant
admiration of the enemy, present us with no hope but in a compromise
with his pride, by a submission to his will. This short plan of policy
is the only counsel which will obtain a hearing. We plunge into a dark
gulf with all the rash precipitation of fear. The nature of courage is,
without a question, to be conversant with danger: but in the palpable
night of their terrors, men under consternation suppose, not that it is
the danger, which, by a sure instinct, calls out the courage to resist
it, but that it is the courage which produces the danger. They therefore
seek for a refuge from their fears in the fears themselves, and consider
a temporizing meanness as the only source of safety.

The rules and definitions of prudence can rarely be exact; never
universal. I do not deny, that, in small, truckling states, a timely
compromise with power has often been the means, and the only means, of
drawling out their puny existence: but a great state is too much envied,
too much dreaded, to find safety in humiliation. To be secure, it must
be respected. Power, and eminence, and consideration, are things not to
be begged. They must be commanded: and they who supplicate for mercy
from others, can never hope for justice through themselves. What justice
they are to obtain, as the alms of an enemy, depends upon his character;
and that they ought well to know before they implicitly confide.


Such is the effect of the perversion of history, by those, who, for
the same nefarious purposes, have perverted every other part of
learning. But those who will stand upon that elevation of reason,
which places centuries under our eye, and brings things to the true
point of comparison, which obscures little names, and effaces the
colours of little parties, and to which nothing can ascend but the
spirit and moral quality of human actions, will say to the teachers
of the Palais Royal,--the cardinal of Lorraine was the murderer of
the sixteenth century, you have the glory of being the murderers in
the eighteenth; and this is the only difference between you. But
history, in the nineteenth century, better understood, and better
employed, will, I trust, teach a civilized posterity to abhor the
misdeeds of both these barbarous ages. It will teach future priests
and magistrates not to retaliate upon the speculative and inactive
atheists of future times, the enormities committed by the present
practical zealots and furious fanatics of that wretched error, which,
in its quiescent state, is more than punished, whenever it is
embraced. It will teach posterity not to make war upon either
religion or philosophy, for the abuse which the hypocrites of both
have made of the two most valuable blessings conferred upon us by the
bounty of the universal Patron, who in all things eminently favours
and protects the race of man.


Place, for instance, before your eyes, such a man as Montesquieu. Think
of a genius not born in every country, or every time; a man gifted by
nature with a penetrating, aquiline eye; with a judgment prepared with
the most extensive erudition; with an herculean robustness of mind, and
nerves not to be broken with labour; a man who could spend twenty years
in one pursuit. Think of a man, like the universal patriarch in Milton
(who had drawn up before him in his prophetic vision the whole series of
the generations which were to issue from his loins), a man capable of
placing in review, after having brought together from the east, the
west, the north, and the south, from the coarseness of the rudest
barbarism to the most refined and subtle civilization, all the schemes
of government which had ever prevailed amongst mankind, weighing,
measuring, collating, and comparing them all, joining fact with theory,
and calling into council, upon all this infinite assemblage of things,
all the speculations which have fatigued the understandings of profound
reasoners in all times! Let us then consider, that all these were but so
many preparatory steps to qualify a man, and such a man, tinctured with
no national prejudice, with no domestic affection, to admire, and to
hold out to the admiration of mankind, the constitution of England! And
shall we Englishmen revoke to such a suit? Shall we, when so much more
than he has produced remains still to be understood and admired, instead
of keeping ourselves in the schools of real science, choose for our
teachers men incapable of being taught, whose only claim to know is,
that they have never doubted; from whom we can learn nothing but their
own indocility; who would teach us to scorn what in the silence of our
hearts we ought to adore?


If you will have religion publicly practised and publicly taught, you
must have a power to say what that religion will be, which you will
protect and encourage; and to distinguish it by such marks and
characteristics, as you in your wisdom shall think fit. As I said
before, your determination may be unwise in this as in other matters;
but it cannot be unjust, hard, or oppressive, or contrary to the liberty
of any man, or in the least degree exceeding your province.

It is therefore as a grievance fairly none at all, nothing but what is
essential not only to the order, but to the liberty of the whole
community. The petitioners are so sensible of the force of these
arguments, that they do admit of one subscription, that is, to the
Scripture. I shall not consider how forcibly this argument militates
with their whole principle against subscription as an usurpation on the
rights of Providence: I content myself with submitting to the
consideration of the house, that, if that rule were once established, it
must have some authority to enforce the obedience; because you well
know, a law without a sanction will be ridiculous. Somebody must sit in
judgment on his conformity; he must judge on the charge; if he judges,
he must ordain execution. These things are necessary consequences one of
the other; and then this judgment is an equal and a superior violation
of private judgment; the right of private judgment is violated in a much
greater degree than it can be by any previous subscription. You come
round again to subscription, as the best and easiest method; men must
judge of his doctrine, and judge definitively; so that either his test
is nugatory, or men must first or last prescribe his public
interpretation of it.


It is one of the finest problems in legislation, and what has often
engaged my thoughts whilst I followed that profession, "What the state
ought to take upon itself to direct by the public wisdom, and what it
ought to leave, with as little interference as possible, to individual
discretion." Nothing, certainly, can be laid down on the subject that
will not admit of exceptions, many permanent, some occasional. But the
clearest line of distinction which I could draw, whilst I had my chalk
to draw any line, was this; that the state ought to confine itself to
what regards the state, or the creatures of the state;--namely, the
exterior establishment of its religion; its magistracy; its revenue; its
military force by sea and land; the corporations that owe their
existence to its fiat; in a word, to everything that is TRULY AND
PROPERLY public; to the public peace, to the public safety, to the
public order, to the public prosperity. In its preventive police it
ought to be sparing of its efforts, and to employ means, rather few,
unfrequent, and strong, than many and frequent, and, of course, as they
multiply their puny politic race, and dwindle, small and feeble.
Statesmen who know themselves will, with the dignity which belongs to
wisdom, proceed only in this the superior orb and first mover of their
duty steadily, vigilantly, severely, courageously: whatever remains
will, in a manner, provide for itself. But as they descend from the
state to a province, from a province to a parish, and from a parish to a
private house, they go on accelerated in their fall. They CANNOT do the
lower duty; and, in proportion as they try it, they will certainly fail
in the higher. They ought to know the different departments of things;
what belongs to laws, and what manners alone can regulate. To these,
great politicians may give a leaning, but they cannot give a law.


To tell the people that they are relieved by the dilapidation of
their public estate, is a cruel and insolent imposition. Statesmen,
before they valued themselves on the relief given to the people by
the destruction of their revenue, ought first to have carefully
attended to the solution of this problem:--Whether it be more
advantageous to the people to pay considerably, and to gain in
proportion; or to gain little or nothing, and to be disburthened of
all contribution? My mind is made up to decide in favour of the first
proposition. Experience is with me, and, I believe, the best opinions
also. To keep a balance between the power of acquisition on the part
of the subject, and the demands he is to answer on the part of the
state, is the fundamental part of the skill of a true politician. The
means of acquisition are prior in time and in arrangement. Good order
is the foundation of all good things. To be enabled to acquire, the
people, without being servile, must be tractable and obedient. The
magistrate must have his reverence, the laws their authority. The
body of the people must not find the principles of natural
subordination by art rooted out of their minds. They must respect
that property of which they cannot partake. They must labour to
obtain what by labour can be obtained; and when they find, as they
commonly do, the success disproportioned to the endeavour, they must
be taught their consolation in the final proportions of eternal
justice. Of this consolation whoever deprives them, deadens their
industry, and strikes at the root of all acquisition as of all
conservation. He that does this is the cruel oppressor, the merciless
enemy of the poor and wretched; at the same time that by his wicked
speculations he exposes the fruits of successful industry, and the
accumulations of fortune, to the plunder of the negligent, the
disappointed, and the unprosperous.


This strange law is not made for a trivial object, not for a single
port, or for a single fortress, but for a great kingdom; for the
religion, the morals, the laws, the liberties, the lives and fortunes of
millions of human creatures, who without their consent, or that of their
lawful government, are, by an arbitrary act of this regicide and
homicide government, which they call a law, incorporated into their

In other words, their will is the law, not only at home, but as to the
concerns of every nation. Who has made that law but the regicide
republic itself, whose laws, like those of the Medes and Persians, they
cannot alter or abrogate, or even so much as take into consideration?
Without the least ceremony or compliment, they have sent out of the
world whole sets of laws and lawgivers. They have swept away the very
constitutions under which the legislators acted, and the laws were made.
Even the fundamental sacred rights of man they have not scrupled to
profane. They have set this holy code at naught with ignominy and scorn.
Thus they treat all their domestic laws and constitutions, and even what
they had considered as a law of nature; but whatever they have put their
seal on for the purposes of their ambition, and the ruin of their
neighbours, this alone is invulnerable, impassible, immortal. Assuming
to be masters of everything human and divine, here, and here alone, it
seems they are limited, "cooped and cabined in;" and this omnipotent
legislature finds itself wholly without the power of exercising its
favourite attribute, the love of peace. In other words, they are
powerful to usurp, impotent to restore; and equally by their power and
their impotence they aggrandize themselves, and weaken and impoverish
you and all other nations.


The PURPOSE for which the abuses of government are brought into view,
forms a very material consideration in the mode of treating them. The
complaints of a friend are things very different from the invectives of
an enemy. The charge of abuses on the late monarchy of France was not
intended to lead to its reformation, but to justify its destruction.
They, who have raked into all history for the faults of kings, and who
have aggravated every fault they have found, have acted consistently;
because they acted as enemies. No man can be a friend to a tempered
monarchy who bears a decided hatred to monarchy itself. He, who at the
present time, is favourable, or even fair, to that system, must act
towards it as towards a friend with frailties, who is under the
prosecution of implacable foes. I think it a duty, in that case, not to
inflame the public mind against the obnoxious person by any exaggeration
of his faults. It is our duty rather to palliate his errors and defects,
or to cast them into the shade, and industriously to bring forward any
good qualities that he may happen to possess. But when the man is to be
amended, and by amendment to be preserved, then the line of duty takes
another direction. When his safety is effectually provided for, it then
becomes the office of a friend to urge his faults and vices with all the
energy of enlightened affection, to paint them in their most vivid
colours, and to bring the moral patient to a better habit. Thus I think
with regard to individuals; thus I think with regard to ancient and
respected governments and orders of men. A spirit of reformation is
never more consistent with itself than when it refuses to be rendered
the means of destruction.


Etiquette, if I understand rightly the term, which in any extent is
of modern usage, had its original application to those ceremonial and
formal observances practised at courts, which had been established by
long usage, in order to preserve the sovereign power from the rude
intrusion of licentious familiarity, as well as to preserve majesty
itself from a disposition to consult its ease at the expense of its
dignity. The term came afterwards to have a greater latitude, and to
be employed to signify certain formal methods used in the
transactions between sovereign states.

In the more limited, as well as in the larger sense of the term, without
knowing what the etiquette is, it is impossible to determine whether it
is a vain and captious punctilio, or a form necessary to preserve
decorum in character and order in business. I readily admit, that
nothing tends to facilitate the issue of all public transactions more
than a mutual disposition in the parties treating to waive all ceremony.
But the use of this temporary suspension of the recognised modes of
respect consists in its being mutual, and in the spirit of conciliation,
in which all ceremony is laid aside. On the contrary, when one of the
parties to a treaty intrenches himself up to the chin in these
ceremonies, and will not on his side abate a single punctilio, and that
all the concessions are upon one side only, the party so conceding does
by this act place himself in a relation of inferiority, and thereby
fundamentally subverts that equality which is of the very essence of all


Old establishments are tried by their effects. If the people are happy,
united, wealthy, and powerful, we presume the rest. We conclude that to
be good, from whence good is derived. In old establishments, various
correctives have been found for their aberrations from theory. Indeed,
they are the results of various necessities and expediencies. They are
not often constructed after any theory; theories are rather drawn from
them. In them we often see the end best obtained, where the means seem
not perfectly reconcilable to what we may fancy was the original scheme.
The means taught by experience may be better suited to political ends
than those contrived in the original project. They again re-act upon the
primitive constitution; and sometimes improve the design itself, from
which they seem to have departed. I think all this might be curiously
exemplified in the British constitution. At worst, the errors and
deviations of every kind in reckoning are found and computed, and the
ship proceeds in her course. This is the case of old establishments; but
in a new and merely theoretic system, it is expected that every
contrivance shall appear, on the face of it, to answer its ends;
especially where the projectors are no way embarrassed with an endeavour
to accommodate the new building to an old one, either in the walls or on
the foundations.


Never was there a jar or discord between genuine sentiment and sound
policy. Never, no never, did Nature say one thing and Wisdom say
another. Nor are sentiments of elevation in themselves turgid and
unnatural. Nature is never more truly herself than in her grandest
form. The Apollo of Belvedere (if the universal robber has yet left
him at Belvedere) is as much in nature as any figure from the pencil
of Rembrandt, or any clown in the rustic revels of Teniers. Indeed,
it is when a great nation is in great difficulties that minds must
exalt themselves to the occasion, or all is lost. Strong passion,
under the direction of a feeble reason, feeds a low fever, which
serves only to destroy the body that entertains it. But vehement
passion does not always indicate an infirm judgment. It often
accompanies, and actuates, and is even auxiliary to a powerful
understanding; and when they both conspire and act harmoniously,
their force is great to destroy disorder within, and to repel injury
from abroad. If ever there was a time that calls on us for no vulgar
conception of things, and for exertions in no vulgar strain, it is
the awful hour that Providence has now appointed to this nation.
Every little measure is a great error; and every great error will
bring on no small ruin. Nothing can be directed above the mark that
we must aim at: everything below it is absolutely thrown away.


I have little to recommend my opinions but long observation and much
impartiality. They come from one who has been no tool of power, no
flatterer of greatness; and who in his last acts does not wish to belie
the tenor of his life. They come from one, almost the whole of whose
public exertions has been a struggle for the liberty of others; from one
in whose breast no anger durable or vehement has ever been kindled, but
by what he considered as tyranny; and who snatches from his share in the
endeavours which are used by good men to discredit opulent oppression,
the hours he has employed on your affairs; and who in so doing persuades
himself he has not departed from his usual office: they come from one
who desires honours, distinctions, and emoluments, but little, and who
expects them not at all; who has no contempt for fame, and no fear of
obloquy; who shuns contention, though he will hazard an opinion; who
would preserve consistency by varying his means to secure the unity of
his end; and, when the equipoise of the vessel in which he sails may be
endangered by overloading it upon one side, is desirous of carrying the
small weight of his reasons to that which may preserve its equipoise.


The only excuse to be made for all our mendicant diplomacy is the same
as in the case of all other mendicancy;--namely, that it has been
founded on absolute necessity. This deserves consideration. Necessity,
as it has no law, so it has no shame: but moral necessity is not like
metaphysical, or even physical. In that category it is a word of loose
signification, and conveys different ideas to different minds. To the
low-minded, the slightest necessity becomes an invincible necessity.
"The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way, and I shall be
devoured in the streets." But when the necessity pleaded is not in the
nature of things, but in the vices of him who alleges it, the whining
tones of commonplace beggarly rhetoric produce nothing but indignation;
because they indicate a desire of keeping up a dishonourable existence,
without utility to others, and without dignity to itself; because they
aim at obtaining the dues of labour without industry; and by frauds
would draw from the compassion of others what men ought to owe to their
own spirit and their own exertions.


He began with exacting an oath from the king, by which, without showing
the extent of his design, he engaged him to everything he could ask.
John swore to submit to the legate in all things relating to his
excommunication. And first he was obliged to accept Langton as
archbishop; then to restore the monks of Canterbury, and other deprived
ecclesiastics, and to make them a full indemnification for all their
losses. And now, by these concessions, all things seemed to be perfectly
settled. The cause of the quarrel was entirely removed. But when the
king expected for so perfect a submission a full absolution, the legate
began a laboured harangue on his rebellion, his tyranny, and the
innumerable sins he had committed; and in conclusion declared, that
there was no way left to appease God and the Church but to resign his
crown to the Holy See, from whose hands he should receive it purified
from all pollutions, and hold it for the future by homage, and an annual
tribute. John was struck motionless at a demand so extravagant and
unexpected. He knew not on which side to turn. If he cast his eyes
toward the coast of France, he there saw his enemy Philip, who
considered him as a criminal as well as an enemy, and who aimed not only
at his crown but his life, at the head of an innumerable multitude of
fierce people, ready to rush in upon him. If he looked at his own army,
he saw nothing there but coldness, disaffection, uncertainty, distrust,
and a strength, in which he knew not whether he ought most to confide or
fear. On the other hand, the papal thunders, from the wounds of which he
was still sore, were leveled full at his head. He could not look
steadily at these complicated difficulties; and truly it is hard to say
what choice he had, if any choice were left to kings in what concerns
the independence of their crown. Surrounded, therefore, with these
difficulties; and that all his late humiliations might not be rendered
as ineffectual as they were ignominious, he took the last step; and, in
the presence of a numerous assembly of his peers and prelates, who
turned their eyes from this mortifying sight, formally resigned his
crown to the pope's legate; to whom at the same time he did homage, and
paid the first fruits of his tribute. Nothing could be added to the
humiliation of the king upon this occasion, but the insolence of the
legate, who spurned the treasure with his foot, and let the crown remain
a long time on the ground before he restored it to the degraded owner.

In this proceeding the motives of the king may be easily discovered; but
how the barons of the kingdom, who were deeply concerned, suffered,
without any protestation, the independency of the crown to be thus
forfeited, is mentioned by no historian of that time. In civil tumults
it is astonishing how little regard is paid by all parties to the honour
or safety of their country. The king's friends were probably induced to
acquiesce by the same motives that had influenced the king. His enemies,
who were the most numerous, perhaps saw his abasement with pleasure, as
they knew this action might be one day employed against him with effect.
To the bigots it was enough, that it aggrandized the pope. It is,
perhaps, worthy of observation, that the conduct of Pandulph towards
King John bore a very great affinity to that of the Roman consuls to the
people of Carthage in the last Punic war; drawing them from concession
to concession, and carefully concealing their design, until they made it
impossible for the Carthaginians to resist. Such a strong resemblance
did the same ambition produce in such distant times; and it is far from
the sole instance, in which we may trace a similarity between the spirit
and conduct of the former and latter Rome in their common design on the
liberties of mankind.


The balance between consumption and production makes price. The market
settles, and alone can settle, that price. Market is the meeting and
conference of the CONSUMER and PRODUCER, when they mutually discover
each other's wants. Nobody, I believe, has observed with any reflection
what market is, without being astonished at the truth, the correctness,
the celerity, the general equity, with which the balance of wants is
settled. They, who wish the destruction of that balance, and would fain
by arbitrary regulation decree, that defective production should not be
compensated by increased price, directly lay their AXE to the root of
production itself.


His Grace, like an able orator, as he is, begins with giving me a
great deal of praise for talents which I do not possess. He does this
to entitle himself, on the credit of this gratuitous kindness, to
exaggerate my abuse of the parts which his bounty, and not that of
nature, has bestowed upon me. In this, too, he has condescended to
copy Mr. Erskine. These priests (I hope they will excuse me; I mean
priests of the rights of man) begin by crowning me with their flowers
and their fillets, and bedewing me with their odours, as a preface to
the knocking me on the head with their consecrated axes. I have
injured, say they, the constitution; and I have abandoned the Whig
party and the Whig principles that I professed. I do not mean, my
dear sir, to defend myself against his Grace. I have not much
interest in what the world shall think or say of me; as little has
the world an interest in what I shall think or say of any one in it;
and I wish that his Grace had suffered an unhappy man to enjoy, in
his retreat, the melancholy privileges of obscurity and sorrow. At
any rate, I have spoken, and I have written, on the subject. If I
have written or spoken so poorly as to be quite forgot, a fresh
apology will not make a more lasting impression. "I must let the tree
lie as it falls." Perhaps I must take some shame to myself. I confess
that I have acted on my own principles of government, and not on
those of his Grace, which are, I dare say, profound and wise; but
which I do not pretend to understand. As to the party to which he
alludes, and which has long taken its leave of me, I believe the
principles of the book which he condemns are very conformable to the
opinions of many of the most considerable and most grave in that
description of politicians. A few indeed, who, I admit, are equally
respectable in all points, differ from me, and talk his Grace's
language. I am too feeble to contend with them. They have the field
to themselves. There are others, very young and very ingenious
persons, who form, probably, the largest part of what his Grace, I
believe, is pleased to consider as that party. Some of them were not
born into the world, and all of them were children, when I entered
into that connection. I give due credit to the censorial brow, to the
broad phylacteries, and to the imposing gravity, of those magisterial
rabbins and doctors in the cabala of political science. I admit that
"wisdom is as the gray hair to man, and that learning is like
honourable old age." But, at a time when liberty is a good deal
talked of, perhaps I might be excused, if I caught something of the
general indocility. It might not be surprising, if I lengthened my
chain a link or two, and in an age of relaxed discipline, gave a
trifling indulgence to my own notions. If that could be allowed,
perhaps I might sometimes (by accident, and without an unpardonable
crime) trust as much to my own very careful, and very laborious,
though, perhaps, somewhat purblind disquisitions, as to their
soaring, intuitive, eagle-eyed authority. But the modern liberty is a
precious thing. It must not be profaned by too vulgar an use. It
belongs only to the chosen few, who are born to the hereditary
representation of the whole democracy, and who leave nothing at all,
no, not the offal, to us poor outcasts of the plebeian race.


Amongst those gentlemen who came to authority, as soon, or sooner than
they came of age, I do not mean to include his Grace. With all those
native titles to empire over our minds which distinguish the others, he
has a large share of experience. He certainly ought to understand the
British constitution better than I do. He has studied it in the
fundamental part. For one election I have seen, he has been concerned in
twenty. Nobody is less of a visionary theorist; nobody has drawn his
speculations more from practice. No peer has condescended to superintend
with more vigilance the declining franchises of the poor commons. "With
thrice great Hermes he has outwatched the bear." Often have his candles
been burned to the snuff, and glimmered and stunk in the sockets, whilst
he grew pale at his constitutional studies; long sleepless nights has he
wasted; long, laborious, shiftless journeys has he made, and great sums
has he expended in order to secure the purity, the independence, and the
sobriety of elections, and to give a check, if possible, to the ruinous
charges that go nearly to the destruction of the right of election
itself. Amidst these his labours, his Grace will be pleased to forgive
me, if my zeal, less enlightened to be sure than his by midnight lamps
and studies, has presumed to talk too favourably of this constitution,
and even to say something sounding like approbation of that body which
has the honour to reckon his Grace at the head of it. Those, who dislike
this partiality, or, if his Grace pleases, this flattery of mine, have a
comfort at hand. I may be refuted and brought to shame by the most
convincing of all refutations--a practical refutation. Every individual
peer for himself may show that I was ridiculously wrong: the whole body
of those noble persons may refute me for the whole corps. If they
please, they are more powerful advocates against themselves, than a
thousand scribblers like me can be in their favour. If I were even
possessed of those powers which his Grace, in order to heighten my
offence, is pleased to attribute to me, there would be little
difference. The eloquence of Mr. Erskine might save Mr.-- from the
gallows, but no eloquence could save Mr. Jackson from the effects of his
own potion.


I shall not live to behold the unravelling of the intricate plot which
saddens and perplexes the awful drama of Providence now acting on the
moral theatre of the world. Whether for thought or for action, I am at
the end of my career. You are in the middle of yours. In what part of
its orbit the nation, with which we are carried along, moves at this
instant, it is not easy to conjecture. It may, perhaps, be far advanced
in its aphelion.--But when to return?

Not to lose ourselves in the infinite void of the conjectural world, our
business is with what is likely to be affected, for the better or the
worse, by the wisdom or weakness of our plans. In all speculations upon
men and human affairs, it is of no small moment to distinguish things of
accident from permanent causes, and from effects that cannot be altered.
It is not every irregularity in our movement that is a total deviation
from our course. I am not quite of the mind of those speculators who
seem assured that, necessarily, and by the constitution of things, all
states have the same periods of infancy, manhood, and decrepitude that
are found in the individuals who compose them. Parallels of this sort
rather furnish similitudes to illustrate or to adorn, than supply
analogies from whence to reason. The objects which are attempted to be
forced into an analogy are not found in the same classes of existence.
Individuals are physical beings subject to laws universal and
invariable. The immediate cause acting in these laws may be obscure; the
general results are subjects of certain calculation. But commonwealths
are not physical but moral essences. They are artificial combinations,
and, in their proximate efficient cause, the arbitrary productions of
the human mind. We are not yet acquainted with the laws which
necessarily influence the stability of that kind of work made by that
kind of agent. There is not in the physical order (with which they do
not appear to hold any assignable connection) a distinct cause by which
any of those fabrics must necessarily grow, flourish, or decay; nor, in
my opinion, does the moral world produce anything more determinate on
that subject than what may serve as an amusement (liberal, indeed, and
ingenious, but still only an amusement) for speculative men. I doubt
whether the history of mankind is yet complete enough, if ever it can be
so, to furnish grounds for a sure theory on the internal causes which
necessarily affect the fortune of a state. I am far from denying the
operation of such causes: but they are infinitely uncertain and much
more obscure, and much more difficult to trace, than the foreign causes
that tend to raise, to depress, and sometimes to overwhelm, a community.
It is often impossible in these political inquiries to find any
proportion between the apparent force of any moral causes we may assign
and their known operation. We are therefore obliged to deliver up that
operation to mere chance, or, more piously (perhaps, more rationally),
to the occasional interposition and irresistible hand of the Great
Disposer. We have seen states of considerable duration, which for ages
have remained nearly as they have begun, and could hardly be said to ebb
or flow. Some appear to have spent their vigour at their commencement.
Some have blazed out in their glory a little before their extinction.
The meridian of some has been the most splendid. Others, and they the
greatest number, have fluctuated, and experienced at different periods
of their existence a great variety of fortune. At the very moment when
some of them seemed plunged in unfathomable abysses of disgrace and
disaster, they have suddenly emerged. They have begun a new course and
opened a new reckoning; and, even in the depths of their calamity, and
on the very ruins of their country, have laid the foundations of a
towering and durable greatness. All this has happened without any
apparent previous change in the general circumstances which had brought
on their distress. The death of a man at a critical juncture, his
disgust, his retreat, his disgrace, have brought innumerable calamities
on a whole nation. A common soldier, a child, a girl at the door of an
inn, have changed the face of fortune, and almost of nature.

Such, and often influenced by such causes, has commonly been the fate of
monarchies of long duration. They have their ebbs and their flows. This
has been eminently the fate of the monarchy of France. There have been
times in which no power has ever been brought so low. Few have ever
flourished in greater glory. By turns elevated and depressed, that power
had been, on the whole, rather on the increase; and it continued not
only powerful but formidable to the hour of the total ruin of the
monarchy. This fall of the monarchy was far from being preceded by any
exterior symptoms of decline. The interior were not visible to every
eye; and a thousand accidents might have prevented the operation of what
the most clear-sighted were not able to discern, nor the most provident
to divine. A very little time before its dreadful catastrophe there was
a kind of exterior splendour in the situation of the Crown, which
usually adds to government strength and authority at home. The Crown
seemed then to have obtained some of the most splendid objects of state
ambition. None of the continental powers of Europe were the enemies of
France. They were all either tacitly disposed to her, or publicly
connected with her; and in those who kept the most aloof there was
little appearance of jealousy; of animosity there was no appearance at
all. The British nation, her great preponderating rival; she had
humbled; to all appearance she had weakened; certainly had endangered,
by cutting off a very large, and by far the most growing part of her
empire. In that its acme of human prosperity and greatness, in the high
and palmy state of the monarchy of France, it fell to the ground without
a struggle. It fell without any of those vices in the monarch which have
sometimes been the causes of the fall of kingdoms, but which existed,
without any visible effect on the state, in the highest degree in many
other princes; and, far from destroying their power, had only left some
slight stains on their character. The financial difficulties were only
pretexts and instruments of those who accomplished the ruin of that
monarchy. They were not the causes of it.

Deprived of the old government, deprived in a manner of all government,
France, fallen as a monarchy, to common speculators might have appeared
more likely to be an object of pity or insult, according to the
disposition of the circumjacent powers, than to be the scourge and
terror of them all: but out of the tomb of the murdered monarchy in
France has arisen a vast, tremendous unformed spectre, in a far more
terrific guise than any which ever yet have overpowered the imagination
and subdued the fortitude of man. Going straight forward to its end,
unappalled by peril, unchecked by remorse, despising all common maxims
and all common means, that hideous phantom overpowered those who could
not believe it was possible she could at all exist, except on the
principles which habit rather than nature had persuaded them were
necessary to their own particular welfare, and to their own ordinary
modes of action. But the constitution of any political being, as well as
that of any physical being, ought to be known, before one can venture to
say what is fit for its conservation, or what is the proper means of its
power. The poison of other states is the food of the new republic. That
bankruptcy, the very apprehension of which is one of the causes assigned
for the fall of the monarchy, was the capital on which she opened her
traffic with the world.


In the case of the farmer and the labourer, their interests are
always the same, and it is absolutely impossible that their free
contracts can be onerous to either party. It is the interest of the
farmer, that his work should be done with effect and celerity: and
that cannot be, unless the labourer is well fed, and otherwise found
with such necessaries of animal life, according to his habitudes, as
may keep the body in full force, and the mind gay and cheerful. For
of all the instruments of his trade, the labour of man (what the
ancient writers have called the instrumentum vocale) is that on which
he is most to rely for the repayment of his capital. The other two,
the semivocale in the ancient classification, that is, the working
stock of cattle, and the instrumentum mutum, such as carts, ploughs,
spades, and so forth, though not all inconsiderable in themselves,
are very much inferior in utility or in expense; or, without a given
portion of the first, are nothing at all. For, in all things
whatever, the mind is the most valuable and the most important; and
in this scale the whole of agriculture is in a natural and just
order; the beast is as an informing principle to the plough and cart;
the labourer is as reason to the beast; and the farmer is as a
thinking and presiding principle to the labourer. An attempt to break
this chain of subordination in any part is equally absurd; but the
absurdity is the most mischievous in practical operation, where it is
the most easy, that is, where it is the most subject to an erroneous

It is plainly more the farmer's interest that his men should thrive,
than that his horses should be well fed, sleek, plump, and fit for use,
or than that his waggons and ploughs should be strong, in good repair,
and fit for service.

On the other hand, if the farmer cease to profit of the labourer, and
that his capital is not continually manured and fructified, it is
impossible that he should continue that abundant nutriment, and
clothing, and lodging, proper for the protection of the instruments he

It is therefore the first and fundamental interest of the labourer, that
the farmer should have a full incoming profit on the product of his
labour. The proposition is self-evident, and nothing but the malignity,
perverseness, and ill-governed passions of mankind, and particularly the
envy they bear to each other's prosperity, could prevent their seeing
and acknowledging it, with thankfulness to the benign and wise Disposer
of all things, who obliges men, whether they will or not, in pursuing
their own selfish interests, to connect the general good with their own
individual success.

But who are to judge what that profit and advantage ought to be?
Certainly no authority on earth. It is a matter of convention dictated
by the reciprocal conveniences of the parties, and indeed by their
reciprocal necessities.--But, if the farmer is excessively
avaricious?--why so much the better--the more he desires to increase his
gains, the more interested is he in the good condition of those upon
whose labour his gains must principally depend.

I shall be told by the zealots of the sect of regulation, that this may
be true, and may be safely committed to the convention of the farmer and
the labourer, when the latter is in the prime of his youth, and at the
time of his health and vigour, and in ordinary times of abundance. But
in calamitous seasons, under accidental illness, in declining life, and
with the pressure of a numerous offspring, the future nourishers of the
community, but the present drains and blood-suckers of those who produce
them, what is to be done? When a man cannot live and maintain his family
by the natural hire of his labour, ought it not to be raised by

On this head I must be allowed to submit, what my opinions have ever
been; and somewhat at large. And, first, I premise that labour is, as I
have already intimated, a commodity, and, as such, an article of trade.
If I am right in this notion, then labour must be subject to all the
laws and principles of trade, and not to regulation foreign to them, and
that may be totally inconsistent with those principles and those laws.
When any commodity is carried to market, it is not the necessity of the
vender, but the necessity of the purchaser, that raises the price. The
extreme want of the seller has rather (by the nature of things with
which we shall in vain contend) the direct contrary operation. If the
goods at market are beyond the demand, they fall in their value; if
below it, they rise. The impossibility of the subsistence of a man, who
carries his labour to a market, is totally beside the question in his
way of viewing it. The only question is, what is it worth to the buyer?

But if the authority comes in and forces the buyer to a price, who is
this in the case (say) of a farmer who buys the labour of ten or twelve
labouring men, and three or four handicrafts, what is it, but to make an
arbitrary division of his property among them?

The whole of his gains, I say it with the most certain conviction, never
do amount anything like in value to what he pays to his labourers and
artificers, so that a very small advance upon what ONE man pays to MANY
may absorb the whole of what he possesses, and amount to an actual
partition of all his substance among them. A perfect equality will
indeed be produced;--that is to say, equal want, equal wretchedness,
equal beggary, and on the part of the petitioners, a woeful, helpless,
and desperate disappointment. Such is the event of all compulsory
equalizations. They pull down what is above. They never raise what is
below: and they depress high and low together beneath the level of what
was originally the lowest.

If a commodity is raised by authority above what it will yield with a
profit to the buyer, that commodity will be the less dealt in. If a
second blundering interposition be used to correct the blunder of the
first, and an attempt is made to force the purchase of the commodity (of
labour for instance), the one of these two things must happen, either
that the forced buyer is ruined, or the price of the product of the
labour, in that proportion, is raised. Then the wheel turns round, and
the evil complained of falls with aggravated weight on the complainant.
The price of corn, which is the result of the expense of all the
operations of husbandry taken together, and for some time continued,
will rise on the labourer, considered as a consumer. The very best will
be, that he remains where he was. But if the price of the corn should
not compensate the price of labour, what is far more to be feared, the
most serious evil, the very destruction of agriculture itself, is to be

Nothing is such an enemy to accuracy of judgment as a coarse
discrimination: a want of such classification and distribution as the
subject admits of. Increase the rate of wages to the labourer, say the
regulators--as if labour was but one thing, and of one value. But this
very broad, generic term, LABOUR, admits, at least, of two or three
specific descriptions: and these will suffice, at least, to let
gentlemen discern a little the necessity of proceeding with caution in
their coercive guidance of those whose existence depends upon the
observance of still nicer distinctions and subdivisions than commonly
they resort to in forming their judgments on this very enlarged part of

The labourers in husbandry may be divided: 1st, into those who are able
to perform the full work of a man; that is, what can be done by a person
from twenty-one years of age to fifty. I know no husbandry-work (mowing
hardly excepted) that is not equally within the power of all persons
within those ages, the more advanced fully compensating by knack and
habit what they lose in activity. Unquestionably, there is a good deal
of difference between the value of one man's labour and that of another,
from strength, dexterity, and honest application. But I am quite sure,
from my best observation, that any given five men will, in their total,
afford a proportion of labour equal to any other five within the periods
of life I have stated; that is, that among such five men there will be
one possessing all the qualifications of a good workman, one bad, and
the other three middling, and approximating to the first and the last.
So that in so small a platoon as that of even five, you will find the
full complement of all that five men CAN earn. Taking five and five
throughout the kingdom, they are equal: therefore, an error with regard
to the equalization of their wages by those who employ five, as farmers
do at the very least, cannot be considerable. 2ndly. Those who are able
to work, but not the complete task of a day-labourer. This class is
infinitely diversified, but will aptly enough fall into principal
divisions. MEN, from the decline, which after fifty becomes every year
more sensible to the period of debility and decrepitude, and the
maladies that precede a final dissolution. WOMEN, whose employment on
husbandry is but occasional, and who differ more in effective labour one
from another, than men do, on account of gestation, nursing, and
domestic management, over and above the difference they have in common
with men in advancing, in stationary, and in declining life. CHILDREN,
who proceed on the reverse order, growing from less to greater utility,
but with a still greater disproportion of nutriment to labour than is
found in the second of these subdivisions: as is visible to those who
will give themselves the trouble of examining into the interior economy
of a poor-house.

This inferior classification is introduced to show, that laws
prescribing, or magistrates exercising, a very stiff and often
inapplicable rule, or a blind and rash discretion, never can provide the
just proportions between earning and salary on the one hand, and
nutriment on the other: whereas interest, habit, and the tacit
convention, that arise from a thousand nameless circumstances, produce a
TACT that regulates without difficulty, what laws and magistrates cannot
regulate at all. The first class of labour wants nothing to equalize it;
it equalizes itself. The second and third are not capable of any

But what if the rate of hire to the labourer comes far short of his
necessary subsistence, and the calamity of the time is so great as to
threaten actual famine? Is the poor labourer to be abandoned to the
flinty heart and griping hand of base self-interest, supported by the
sword of law, especially when there is reason to suppose that the very
avarice of farmers themselves has concurred with the errors of
government to bring famine on the land?


Before this of France, the annals of all time have not furnished an
instance of a COMPLETE revolution. That Revolution seems to have
extended even to the constitution of the mind of man. It has this of
wonderful in it, that it resembles what Lord Verulam says of the
operations of nature. It was perfect, not only in its elements and
principles, but in all its members and its organs from the very
beginning. The moral scheme of France furnishes the only pattern ever
known, which they who admire will INSTANTLY resemble. It is indeed an
inexhaustible repertory of one kind of examples. In my wretched
condition, though hardly to be classed with the living, I am not safe
from them. They have tigers to fall upon animated strength. They have
hyaenas to prey upon carcasses. The national menagerie is collected by
the first physiologists of the time; and it is defective in no
description of savage nature. They pursue even such as me, into the
obscurest retreats, and haul them before their revolutionary tribunals.
Neither sex, nor age,--nor the sanctuary of the tomb, is sacred to them.
They have so determined a hatred to all privileged orders, that they
deny even to the departed the sad immunities of the grave. They are not
wholly without an object. Their turpitude purveys to their malice; and
they unplumb the dead for bullets to assassinate the living. If all
revolutionists were not proof against all caution, I should recommend it
to their consideration, that no persons were ever known in history,
either sacred or profane, to vex the sepulchre, and, by their sorceries,
to call up the prophetic dead, with any other event, than the prediction
of their own disastrous fate.--"Leave me, oh leave me to repose!"


The British government in India being a subordinate and delegated
power, it ought to be considered as a fundamental principle in such a
system, that it is to be preserved in the strictest obedience to the
government at home. Administration in India, at an immense distance
from the seat of the supreme authority; intrusted with the most
extensive powers; liable to the greatest temptations; possessing the
amplest means of abuse; ruling over a people guarded by no distinct
or well-ascertained privileges, whose language, manners, and radical
prejudices render not only redress, but all complaint on their part,
a matter of extreme difficulty; such an administration, it is
evident, never can be made subservient to the interests of Great
Britain, or even tolerable to the natives, but by the strictest
rigour in exacting obedience to the commands of the authority
lawfully set over it.


My exertions, whatever they have been, were such as no hopes of
pecuniary reward could possibly excite; and no pecuniary compensation
can possibly reward them. Between money and such services, if done by
abler men than I am, there is no common principle of comparison: they
are quantities incommensurable. Money is made for the comfort and
convenience of animal life. It cannot be a reward for what mere animal
life must indeed sustain, but never can inspire. With submission to his
Grace, I have not had more than sufficient. As to any noble use, I trust
I know how to employ, as well as he, a much greater fortune than he
possesses. In a more confined application, I certainly stand in need of
every kind of relief and easement much more than he does. When I say I
have not received more than I deserve, is this the language I hold to
majesty? No! Far, very far, from it! Before that presence, I claim no
merit at all. Everything towards me is favour, and bounty. One style to
a gracious benefactor; another to a proud and insulting foe.

His Grace is pleased to aggravate my guilt, by charging my acceptance of
his majesty's grant as a departure from my ideas, and the spirit of my
conduct with regard to economy. If it be, my ideas of economy were false
and ill-founded. But they are the Duke of Bedford's ideas of economy I
have contradicted, and not my own. If he means to allude to certain
bills brought in by me on a message from the throne in 1782, I tell him,
that there is nothing in my conduct that can contradict either the
letter or the spirit of those acts. Does he mean the Pay-office Act? I
take it for granted he does not. The act to which he alludes, is, I
suppose, the Establishment Act. I greatly doubt whether his Grace has
ever read the one or the other. The first of these systems cost me, with
every assistance which my then situation gave me, pains incredible. I
found an opinion common through all the offices, and general in the
public at large, that it would prove impossible to reform and methodize
the office of paymaster-general. I undertook it, however; and I
succeeded in my undertaking. Whether the military service, or whether
the general economy of our finances, have profited by that act, I leave
to those who are acquainted with the army, and with the treasury, to



Of all things, an indiscreet tampering with the trade of provisions is
the most dangerous, and it is always worst in the time when men are most
disposed to it: that is, in the time of scarcity. Because there is
nothing on which the passions of men are so violent, and their judgment
so weak, and on which there exists such a multitude of ill-founded
popular prejudices.


The great use of government is as a restraint; and there is no
restraint which it ought to put upon others, and upon itself too,
rather than that which is imposed on the fury of speculating under
circumstances of irritation. The number of idle tales, spread about
by the industry of faction, and by the zeal of foolish
good-intention, and greedily devoured by the malignant credulity of
mankind, tends infinitely to aggravate prejudices, which, in
themselves, are more than sufficiently strong. In that state of
affairs, and of the public with relation to them, the first thing
that government owes to us, the people, is INFORMATION; the next is
timely coercion:--the one to guide our judgment; the other to
regulate our tempers.


To provide for us in our necessities is not in the power of government.
It would be a vain presumption in statesmen to think they can do it. The
people maintain them, and not they the people. It is in the power of
government to prevent much evil; it can do very little positive good in
this, or perhaps in anything else. It is not only so of the state and
statesmen, but of all the classes and descriptions of the rich--they are
the pensioners of the poor, and are maintained by their superfluity.
They are under an absolute, hereditary, and indefeasible dependence on
those who labour, and are miscalled the poor.


The labouring people are only poor, because they are numerous. Numbers
in their nature imply poverty. In a fair distribution among a vast
multitude none can have much. That class of dependent pensioners called
the rich is so extremely small, that if all their throats were cut, and
a distribution made of all they consume in a year, it would not give a
bit of bread and cheese for one night's supper to those who labour, and
who in reality feed both the pensioners and themselves.


But the throats of the rich ought not to be cut, nor their magazines
plundered; because in their persons they are trustees for those who
labour, and their hoards are the banking-houses of these latter. Whether
they mean it or not, they do, in effect, execute their trust--some with
more, some with less, fidelity and judgment. But, on the whole, the duty
is performed, and everything returns, deducting some very trifling
commission and discount, to the place from whence it arose. When the
poor rise to destroy the rich, they act as wisely for their own purposes
as when they burn mills, and throw corn into the river, to make bread


When I say, that we of the people ought to be informed, inclusively I
say, we ought not to be flattered; flattery is the reverse of
instruction. The POOR in that case would be rendered as improvident as
the rich, which would not be at all good for them.


Nothing can be so base and so wicked as the political canting language,
"The labouring POOR." Let compassion be shown in action, the more the
better, according to every man's ability; but let there be no
lamentation of their condition. It is no relief to their miserable
circumstances; it is only an insult to their miserable understandings.
It arises from a total want of charity, or a total want of thought. Want
of one kind was never relieved by want of any other kind. Patience,
labour, sobriety, frugality, and religion, should be recommended to
them; all the rest is downright FRAUD. It is horrible to call them "The
ONCE HAPPY labourer."


Whether what may be called the moral or philosophical happiness of the
laborious classes is increased or not, I cannot say. The seat of that
species of happiness is in the mind; and there are few data to ascertain
the comparative state of the mind at any two periods. Philosophical
happiness is to want little. Civil or vulgar happiness is to want much,
and to enjoy much. IX.

If the happiness of the animal man (which certainly goes somewhere
towards the happiness of the rational man) be the object of our
estimate, then I assert without the least hesitation, that the condition
of those who labour (in all descriptions of labour, and in all
gradations of labour, from the highest to the lowest inclusively) is on
the whole extremely meliorated, if more and better food is any standard
of melioration. They work more, it is certain, but they have the
advantage of their augmented labour; yet whether that increase of labour
be on the whole a GOOD or an EVIL, is a consideration that would lead us
a great way, and is not for my present purpose. But as to the fact of
the melioration of their diet, I shall enter into the detail of proof
whenever I am called upon: in the mean time, the known difficulty of
contenting them with anything but bread made of the finest flour, and
meat of the first quality, is proof sufficient.


I further assert, that even under all the hardships of the last year,
the labouring people did, either out of their direct gains, or from
charity (which it seems is now an insult to them), in fact, fare better
than they did in seasons of common plenty, fifty or sixty years ago; or
even at the period of my English observation, which is about forty-four
years. I even assert, that full as many in that class as ever were known
to do it before continued to save money; and this I can prove, so far as
my own information and experience extend.


It is not true that the rate of wages has not increased with the nominal
price of provisions. I allow it has not fluctuated with that price, nor
ought it; and the squires of Norfolk had dined when they gave it as
their opinion, that it might or ought to rise and fall with the market
of provisions. The rate of wages in truth has no DIRECT relation to that
price. Labour is a commodity like every other, and rises or falls
according to the demand. This is in the nature of things; however, the
nature of things has provided for their necessities. Wages have been
twice raised in my time: and they bear a full proportion or even a
greater than formerly, to the medium of provision during the last bad
cycle of twenty years. They bear a full proportion to the result of
their labour. If we were wildly to attempt to force them beyond it, the
stone which we had forced up the hill would only fall back upon them in
a diminished demand, or what indeed is the far lesser evil, an
aggravated price, of all the provisions which are the result of their
manual toil.


There is an implied contract, much stronger than any instrument or
article of agreement between the labourer in any occupation and his
employer--that the labour, so far as that labour is concerned, shall be
sufficient to pay to the employer a profit on his capital, and a
compensation for his risk; in a word, that the labour shall produce an
advantage equal to the payment. Whatever is above that, is a direct TAX;
and if the amount of that tax be left to the will and pleasure of
another, it is an ARBITRARY TAX.


The true cause of his drawing so shocking a picture is no more than
this, and it ought rather to claim our pity than excite our
indignation;--he finds himself out of power; and this condition is
intolerable to him. The same sun which gilds all nature, and
exhilarates the whole creation, does not shine upon disappointed
ambition. It is something that rays out of darkness, and inspires
nothing but gloom and melancholy. Men in this deplorable state of mind
find a comfort in spreading the contagion of their spleen. They find an
advantage too; for it is a general popular error to imagine the loudest
complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare. If
such persons can answer the ends of relief and profit to themselves,
they are apt to be careless enough about either the means or the


Their purpose everywhere seems to have been to evade and slip aside from
DIFFICULTY. This it has been the glory of the great masters in all the
arts to confront, and to overcome; and when they had overcome the first
difficulty, to turn it into an instrument for new conquests over new
difficulties; thus to enable them to extend the empire of their science;
and even to push forward, beyond the reach of their original thoughts,
the landmarks of the human understanding itself. Difficulty is a severe
instructor, set over us by the supreme ordinance of a parental Guardian
and Legislator, who knows us better than we know ourselves, as he loves
us better too. Pater ipse colendi haud facilem esse viam voluit. He that
wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our
antagonist is our helper. This amicable conflict with difficulty obliges
us to an intimate acquaintance with our object, and compels us to
consider it in all its relations. It will not suffer us to be
superficial. It is the want of nerves of understanding for such a task,
it is the degenerate fondness for tricking short-cuts, and little
fallacious facilities, that has in so many parts of the world created
governments with arbitrary powers. They have created the late arbitrary
monarchy of France; they have created the arbitrary republic of Paris.
With them defects in wisdom are to be supplied by the plenitude of
force. They get nothing by it. Commencing their labours on a principle
of sloth, they have the common fortune of slothful men. The
difficulties, which they rather had eluded than escaped, meet them again
in their course; they multiply and thicken on them; they are involved,
through a labyrinth of confused detail, in an industry without limit,
and without direction; and, in conclusion, the whole of their work
becomes feeble, vicious, and insecure.

It is this inability to wrestle with difficulty which has obliged the
arbitrary Assembly of France to commence their schemes of reform with
abolition and total destruction. But is it in destroying and pulling
down that skill is displayed? Your mob can do this as well at least as
your assemblies. The shallowest understanding, the rudest hand, is more
than equal to that task. Rage and phrensy will pull down more in half an
hour than prudence, deliberation, and foresight can build up in a
hundred years. The errors and defects of old establishments are visible
and palpable. It calls for little ability to point them out; and where
absolute power is given, it requires but a word wholly to abolish the
vice and the establishment together. The same lazy but restless
disposition, which loves sloth and hates quiet, directs these
politicians, when they come to work for supplying the place of what they
have destroyed. To make everything the reverse of what they have seen,
is quite as easy as to destroy. No difficulties occur in what has never
been tried. Criticism is almost baffled in discovering the defects of
what has not existed; and eager enthusiasm and cheating hope have all
the wide field of imagination, in which they may expatiate with little
or no opposition.


With regard to the sovereign jurisdictions, I must observe, Sir, that
whoever takes a view of this kingdom in a cursory manner will imagine,
that he beholds a solid, compacted, uniform system of monarchy; in
which all inferior jurisdictions are but as rays diverging from one
centre. But on examining it more nearly, you find much eccentricity and
confusion. It is not a monarchy in strictness. But, as in the Saxon
times this country was an heptarchy, it is now a strange sort of
PENTARCHY. It is divided into five several distinct principalities,
besides the supreme. There is indeed this difference from the Saxon
times, that as in the itinerant exhibitions of the stage, for want of a
complete company, they are obliged to throw a variety of parts on their
chief performer; so our sovereign condescends himself to act not only
the principal, but all the subordinate, parts in the play. He
condescends to dissipate the royal character, and to trifle with those
light, subordinate, lacquered sceptres in those hands that sustain the
ball representing the world, or which wield the trident that commands
the ocean. Cross a brook, and you lose the king of England; but you
have some comfort in coming again under his majesty, though "shorn of
his beams," and no more than prince of Wales. Go to the north, and you
find him dwindled to a duke of Lancaster; turn to the west of that
north, and he pops upon you in the humble character of earl of Chester.
Travel a few miles on, the earl of Chester disappears; and the king
surprises you again as count palatine of Lancaster. If you travel
beyond Mount Edgecombe, you find him once more in his incognito, and he
is duke of Cornwall. So that, quite fatigued and satiated with this
dull variety, you are infinitely refreshed when you return to the
sphere of his proper splendour, and behold your amiable sovereign in
his true, simple, undisguised, native character of majesty.


Every one must remember that the cabal set out with the most astonishing
prudery, both moral and political. Those, who in a few months after
soused over head and ears into the deepest and dirtiest pits of
corruption, cried out violently against the indirect practices in the
electing and managing of parliaments, which had formerly prevailed. This
marvellous abhorrence which the court had suddenly taken to all
influence, was not only circulated in conversation through the kingdom,
but pompously announced to the public, with many other extraordinary
things, in a pamphlet which had all the appearance of a manifesto
preparatory to some considerable enterprise. Throughout it was a satire,
though in terms managed and decent enough, on the politics of the former
reign. It was indeed written with no small art and address.

In this piece appeared the first dawning of the new system; there first
appeared the idea (then only in speculation) of SEPARATING THE COURT
FROM THE ADMINISTRATION; of carrying everything from national connection
to personal regards; and of forming a regular party for that purpose,
under the name of KING'S MEN.

To recommend this system to the people, a perspective view of the court,
gorgeously painted, and finely illuminated from within, was exhibited to
the gaping multitude. Party was to be totally done away, with all its
evil works. Corruption was to be cast down from court, as Ate was from
heaven. Power was thenceforward to be the chosen residence of public
spirit; and no one was to be supposed under any sinister influence,
except those who had the misfortune to be in disgrace at court, which
was to stand in lieu of all vices and all corruptions. A scheme of
perfection to be realized in a monarchy far beyond the visionary
republic of Plato. The whole scenery was exactly disposed to captivate
those good souls, whose credulous morality is so invaluable a treasure
to crafty politicians. Indeed there was wherewithal to charm everybody,
except those few who are not much pleased with professions of
supernatural virtue, who know of what stuff such professions are made,
for what purposes they are designed, and in what they are sure
constantly to end. Many innocent gentlemen, who had been talking prose
all their lives without knowing anything of the matter, began at last to
open their eyes upon their own merits, and to attribute their not having
been lords of the treasury and lords of trade many years before, merely
to the prevalence of party, and to the ministerial power, which had
frustrated the good intentions of the court in favour of their
abilities. Now was the time to unlock the sealed fountain of royal
bounty, which had been infamously monopolized and huckstered, and to let
it flow at large upon the whole people. The time was come to restore
royalty to its original splendour.


If a few puny libellers, acting under a knot of factious politicians,
without virtue, parts, or character (such they are constantly
represented by these gentlemen), are sufficient to excite this
disturbance, very perverse must be the disposition of that people
amongst whom such a disturbance can be excited by such means. It is
besides no small aggravation of the public misfortune, that the
disease, on this hypothesis, appears to be without remedy. If the
wealth of the nation be the cause of its turbulence, I imagine it is
not proposed to introduce poverty, as a constable to keep the peace. If
our dominions abroad are the roots which feed all this rank luxuriance
of sedition, it is not intended to cut them off in order to famish the
fruit. If our liberty has enfeebled the executive power, there is no
design, I hope, to call in the aid of despotism, to fill up the
deficiencies of law. Whatever may be intended, these things are not
yet professed. We seem therefore to be driven to absolute despair: for
we have no other materials to work upon but those out of which God has
been pleased to form the inhabitants of this island. If these be
radically and essentially vicious, all that can be said is, that those
men are very unhappy, to whose fortune or duty it falls to administer
the affairs of this untoward people. I hear it indeed sometimes
asserted, that a steady perseverance in the present measures, and a
rigorous punishment of those who oppose them, will in course of time
infallibly put an end to these disorders. But this, in my opinion, is
said without much observation of our present disposition, and without
any knowledge at all of the general nature of mankind. If the matter of
which this nation is composed be so very fermentable as these gentlemen
describe it, leaven never will be wanting to work it up, as long as
discontent, revenge, and ambition, have existence in the world.
Particular punishments are the cure for accidental distempers in the
state; they inflame rather than allay those heats which arise from the
settled mismanagement of the government, or from a natural
indisposition in the people. It is of the utmost moment not to make
mistakes in the use of strong measures; and firmness is then only a
virtue when it accompanies the most perfect wisdom. In truth,
inconstancy is a sort of natural corrective of folly and ignorance.


It is a law of nature, that whoever is necessary to what we have made
our object, is sure, in some way, or in some time or other, to become
our master. All this, however, is submitted to, in order to avoid that
monstrous evil of governing in concurrence with the opinion of the
people. For it seems to be laid down as a maxim, that a king has some
sort of interest in giving uneasiness to his subjects: that all who are
pleasing to them, are to be of course disagreeable to him: that as soon
as the persons who are odious at court are known to be odious to the
people, it is snatched at as a lucky occasion of showering down upon
them all kinds of emoluments and honours. None are considered as
well?wishers to the crown, but those who advised to some unpopular
course of action; none capable of serving it, but those who are obliged
to call at every instant upon all its power for the safety of their
lives. None are supposed to be fit priests in the temple of government,
but the persons who are compelled to fly into it for sanctuary. Such is
the effect of this refined project; such is ever the result of all the
contrivances, which are used to free men from the servitude of their
reason and from the necessity of ordering their affairs according to
their evident interests. These contrivances oblige them to run into a
real and ruinous servitude, in order to avoid a supposed restraint that
might be attended with advantage.


I never govern myself--no rational man ever did govern himself--by
abstractions and universals. I do not put abstract ideas wholly out of
any question, because I well know, that under that name I should
dismiss principles; and that without the guide and light of sound,
well-understood principles, all reasonings in politics, as in
everything else, would be only a confused jumble of particular facts
and details, without the means of drawing out any sort of theoretical
or practical conclusion. A statesman differs from a professor in an
university: the latter has only the general view of society; the
former--the statesmen--has a number of circumstances to combine with
those general ideas, and to take into his consideration. Circumstances
are infinite, are infinitely combined; are variable and transient; he
who does not take them into consideration is not erroneous, but stark
mad--dat operam ut cum ratione insaniat--he is metaphysically mad. A
statesman, never losing sight of principles, is to be guided by
circumstances; and judging contrary to the exigencies of the moment he
may ruin his country for ever.

I go on this ground, that government, representing the society, has a
general superintending control over all the actions, and over all the
publicly propagated doctrines of men, without which it never could
provide adequately for all the wants of society; but then it is to use
this power with an equitable discretion, the only bond of sovereign
authority. For it is not, perhaps, so much by the assumption of unlawful
powers, as by the unwise or unwarrantable use of those which are most
legal, that governments oppose their true end and object; for there is
such a thing as tyranny as well as usurpation. You can hardly state to
me a case, to which legislature is the most confessedly competent, in
which, if the rules of benignity and prudence are not observed, the most
mischievous and oppressive things may not be done. So that after all, it
is a moral and virtuous discretion, and not any abstract theory of
right, which keeps governments faithful to their ends. Crude,
unconnected truths are in the world of practice what falsehoods are in

A reasonable, prudent, provident, and moderate coercion may be a means
of preventing acts of extreme ferocity and rigour; for by propagating
excessive and extravagant doctrines, such extravagant disorders take
place, as require the most perilous and fierce corrections to oppose
them. It is not morally true, that we are bound to establish in every
country that form of religion which in OUR minds is most agreeable to
truth, and conduces most to the eternal happiness of mankind. In the
same manner it is not true that we are, against the conviction of our
own judgment, to establish a system of opinions and practises directly
contrary to those ends, only because some majority of the people, told
by the head, may prefer it. No conscientious man would willingly
establish what he knew to be false and mischievous in religion, or in
anything else. No wise man, on the contrary, would tyrannically set up
his own sense so as to reprobate that of the great prevailing body of
the community, and pay no regard to the established opinions and
prejudices of mankind or refuse to them the means of securing a
religious instruction suitable to these prejudices. A great deal depends
on the state in which you find men.


The foundations on which obedience to governments is founded, are not
to be constantly discussed. That we are here, supposes the discussion
already made and the dispute settled. We must assume the rights of what
represents the public to control the individual, to make his will and
his acts to submit to their will, until some intolerable grievance
shall make us know that it does not answer its end, and will submit
neither to reformation nor restraint. Otherwise we should dispute all
the points of morality before we can punish a murderer, robber, and
adulterer; we should analyze all society. Dangers by being despised
grow great; so they do by absurd provision against them. Stulti est
dixisse non putaram. Whether an early discovery of evil designs, an
early declaration, and an early precaution against them, be more wise
than to stifle all inquiry about them, for fear they should declare
themselves more early than otherwise they would, and therefore
precipitate the evil--all this depends on the reality of the danger. Is
it only an unbookish jealousy, as Shakspeare calls it? It is a question
of fact. Does a design against the constitution of this country exist?
If it does, and if it is carried on with increasing vigour and activity
by a restless faction, and if it receives countenance by the most
ardent and enthusiastic applauses of its object, in the great council
of this kingdom, by men of the first parts, which this kingdom
produces, perhaps by the first it has ever produced, can I think that
there is no danger? If there be danger, must there be no precaution at
all against it? If you ask whether I think the danger urgent and
immediate, I answer, thank God, I do not. The body of the people is yet
sound, the constitution is in their hearts, while wicked men are
endeavouring to put another into their heads. But if I see the very
same beginnings, which have commonly ended in great calamities, I ought
to act as if they might produce the very same effects. Early and
provident fear is the mother of safety; because in that state of things
the mind is firm and collected, and the judgment unembarrassed. But
when the fear, and the evil feared, come on together, and press at once
upon us, deliberation itself is ruinous, which saves upon all other
occasions; because when perils are instant, it delays decision; the man
is in a flutter, and in a hurry, and his judgment is gone, as the
judgment of the deposed king of France and his ministers was gone, if
the latter did not premeditately betray him. He was just come from his
usual amusement of hunting, when the head of the column of treason and
assassination was arrived at his house. Let not the king, let not the
prince of Wales, be surprised in this manner. Let not both houses of
parliament be led in triumph along with him, and have law dictated to
them by the constitutional, the revolution, and the Unitarian
societies. These insect reptiles, whilst they go on only caballing and
toasting, only fill us with disgust; if they get above their natural
size, and increase the quantity, whilst they keep the quality, of their
venom, they become objects of the greatest terror. A spider in his
natural size is only a spider, ugly and loathsome; and his flimsy net
is only fit for catching flies. But, good God! suppose a spider as
large as an ox, and that he spread cables about us, all the wilds of
Africa would not produce anything so dreadful--

"Quale portentum neque militaris
Daunia in latis alit esculetis,
Nec Jubae tellus generat leonum
Arida nutrix."

Think of them, who dare menace in the way they do in their present
state, what would they do if they had power commensurate to their
malice. God forbid I ever should have a despotic master; but if I must,
my choice is made. I will have Louis XVI. rather than Monsieur Bailly,
or Brissot, or Chabot; rather George III., or George IV., than Dr.
Priestley or Dr. Kippis, persons who would not load a tyrannous power by
the poisoned taunts of a vulgar, low-bred insolence. I hope we have
still spirit enough to keep us from the one or the other. The
contumelies of tyranny are the worst parts of it.


To the sublime in building, greatness of dimension seems requisite; for
on a few parts, and those small, the imagination cannot rise to any
idea of infinity. No greatness in the manner can effectually compensate
for the want of proper dimensions. There is no danger of drawing men
into extravagant designs by this rule; it carries its own caution along
with it. Because too great a length in buildings destroys the purpose
of greatness, which it was intended to promote; the perspective will
lessen it in height as it gains in length, and will bring it at last to
a point; turning the whole figure into a sort of triangle, the poorest
in its effect of almost any figure that can be presented to the eye. I
have ever observed, that colonnades and avenues of trees of a moderate
length were, without comparison, far grander than when they were
suffered to run to immense distances. A true artist should put a
generous deceit on the spectators, and effect the noblest designs by
easy methods. Designs that are vast only by their dimensions, are
always the sign of a common and low imagination. No work of art can be
great, but as it deceives; to be otherwise is the prerogative of nature
only. A good eye will fix the medium betwixt an excessive length or
height (for the same objection lies against both), and a short or
broken quantity: and perhaps it might be ascertained to a tolerable
degree of exactness, if it was my purpose to descend far into the
particulars of any art.


The second branch of the social passions is that which administers to
SOCIETY IN GENERAL. With regard to this, I observe, that society, merely
as society, without any particular heightenings, gives us no positive
pleasure in the enjoyment; but absolute and entire SOLITUDE, that is,
the total and perpetual exclusion from all society, is as great a
positive pain as can almost be conceived. Therefore in the balance
between the pleasure of general SOCIETY, and the pain of absolute
solitude, PAIN is the predominant idea. But the pleasure of any
particular social enjoyment outweighs very considerably the uneasiness
caused by the want of that particular enjoyment; so that the strongest
sensations relative to the habitudes of PARTICULAR SOCIETY are
sensations of pleasure. Good company, lively conversations, and the
endearments of friendship, fill the mind with great pleasure; a
temporary solitude, on the other hand, is itself agreeable. This may
perhaps prove that we are creatures designed for contemplation as well
as action; since solitude as well as society has its pleasures; as from
the former observation we may discern, that an entire life of solitude
contradicts the purposes of our being, since death itself is scarcely an
idea of more terror.


I therefore freely admit to the East-India their claim to exclude their
fellow-subjects from the commerce of half the globe. I admit their claim
to administer an annual territorial revenue of seven millions sterling;
to command an army of sixty thousand men; and to dispose (under the
control of a sovereign, imperial discretion, and with the due observance
of the natural and local law) of the lives and fortunes of thirty
millions of their fellow-creatures. All this they possess by charter,
and by acts of parliament (in my opinion), without a shadow of

Those who carry the rights and claims of the company the furthest do not
contend for more than this; and all this I freely grant. But granting
all this, they must grant to me, in my turn, that all political power
which is set over men, and that all privilege claimed or exercised in
exclusion of them, being wholly artificial, and for so much a derogation
from the natural quality of mankind at large, ought to be some way or
other exercised ultimately for their benefit.

If this is true with regard to every species of political dominion, and
every description of commercial privilege, none of which can be
original, self-derived rights, or grants for the mere private benefit of
the holders, then such rights, or privileges, or whatever else you
choose to call them, are all in the strictest sense a TRUST; and it is
of the very essence of every trust to be rendered ACCOUNTABLE; and even
totally to CEASE, when it substantially varies from the purposes for
which alone it could have a lawful existence.

This I conceive, Sir, to be true of trusts of power vested in the
highest hands, and of such as seem to hold of no human creature. But
about the application of this principle to subordinate, DERIVATIVE
trusts, I do not see how a controversy can be maintained. To whom then
would I make the East-India Company accountable? Why, to parliament, to
be sure; to parliament, from which their trust was derived; to
parliament, which alone is capable of comprehending the magnitude of its
object, and its abuse; and alone capable of an effectual legislative
remedy. The very charter, which is held out to exclude parliament from
correcting malversation with regard to the high trust vested in the
company, is the very thing which at once gives a title and imposes on us
a duty to interfere with effect, wherever power and authority
originating from ourselves are perverted from their purposes, and become
instruments of wrong and violence. If parliament, Sir, had nothing to do
with this charter, we might have some sort of Epicurean excuse to stand
aloof, indifferent spectators of what passes in the company's name in
India and in London. But if we are the very cause of the evil, we are in
a special manner engaged to the redress; and for us passively to bear
with oppressions committed under the sanction of our own authority, is
in truth and reason for this house to be an active accomplice in the

That the power, notoriously, grossly abused, has been bought from us is
very certain. But this circumstance, which is urged against the bill,
becomes an additional motive for our interference; lest we should be
thought to have sold the blood of millions of men, for the base
consideration of money. We sold, I admit, all that we had to sell; that
is, our authority, not our control. We had not a right to make a market
of our duties.

I ground myself therefore on this principle--that if the abuse is
proved, the contract is broken, and we re-enter into all our rights;
that is, into the exercise of all our duties. Our own authority is
indeed as much a trust originally, as the company's authority is a trust
derivatively; and it is the use we make of the resumed power that must
justify or condemn us in the resumption of it. When we have perfected
the plan laid before us by the right honourable mover, the world will
then see what it is we destroy, and what it is we create. By that test
we stand or fall; and by that test I trust that it will be found in the
issue, that we are going to supersede a charter abused to the full
extent of all the powers which it could abuse, and exercised in the
plenitude of despotism, tyranny, and corruption; and that in one and the
same plan, we provide a real chartered security for the RIGHTS OF MEN,
cruelly violated under that charter.

This bill, and those connected with it, are intended to form the magna
charta of Hindostan. Whatever the treaty of Westphalia is to the liberty
of the princes and free cities of the empire, and to the three religions
there professed; whatever the great charter, the statute of tallege, the
petition of right, and the declaration of right, are to Great Britain,
these bills are to the people of India. Of this benefit, I am certain,
their condition is capable; and when I know that they are capable of
more, my vote shall most assuredly be for our giving to the full extent
of their capacity of receiving; and no charter of dominion shall stand
as a bar in my way to their charter of safety and protection.

The strong admission I have made of the company's rights (I am conscious
of it) binds me to do a great deal. I do not presume to condemn those
who argue a priori, against the propriety of leaving such extensive
political powers in the hands of a company of merchants. I know much is,
and much more may be, said against such a system. But, with my
particular ideas and sentiments, I cannot go that way to work. I feel an
insuperable reluctance in giving my hand to destroy any established
institution of government, upon a theory, however plausible it may be.
My experience in life teaches me nothing clear upon the subject. I have
known merchants with the sentiments and the abilities of great
statesmen; and I have seen persons in the rank of statesmen, with the
conceptions and characters of pedlars. Indeed, my observation has
furnished me with nothing that is to be found in any habits of life or
education, which tends wholly to disqualify men for the functions of
government, but that by which the power of exercising those functions is
very frequently obtained, I mean a spirit and habits of low cabal and
intrigue; which I have never, in one instance, seen united with a
capacity for sound and manly policy. To justify us in taking the
administration of their affairs out of the hands of the East-India
Company, on my principles, I must see several conditions. 1st. The
object affected by the abuse should be great and important. 2nd. The
abuse affecting this great object ought to be a great abuse. 3rd. It
ought to be habitual, and not accidental. 4th. It ought to be utterly
incurable in the body as it now stands constituted. All this ought to be
made as visible to me as the light of the sun, before I should strike
off an atom of their charter.


All are agreed, that parliaments should not be perpetual; the only
question is, what is the most convenient time for their duration? On
which there are three opinions. We are agreed, too, that the term ought
not to be chosen most likely in its operation to spread corruption, and
to augment the already overgrown influence of the Crown. On these
principles I mean to debate the question. It is easy to pretend a zeal
for liberty. Those, who think themselves not likely to be encumbered
with the performance of their promises, either from their known
inability, or total indifference about the performance, never fail to
entertain the most lofty ideas. They are certainly the most specious,
and they cost them neither reflection to frame, nor pains to modify, nor
management to support. The task is of another nature to those, who mean
to promise nothing that it is not in their intention, or may possibly be
in their power, to perform; to those, who are bound and principled no
more to delude the understandings than to violate the liberty of their
fellow-subjects. Faithful watchmen we ought to be over the rights and
privileges of the people. But our duty, if we are qualified for it as we
ought, is to give them information, and not to receive it from them; we
are not to go to school to them to learn the principles of law and
government. In doing so, we should not dutifully serve, but we should
basely and scandalously betray, the people, who are not capable of this
service by nature, nor in any instance called to it by the constitution.
I reverentially look up to the opinion of the people, and with an awe
that is almost superstitious. I should be ashamed to show my face before
them, if I changed my ground, as they cried up or cried down men, or
things, or opinions; if I wavered and shifted about with every change,
and joined in it, or opposed, as best answered any low interest or
passion; if I held them up hopes, which I knew I never intended, or
promised what I well knew I could not perform. Of all these things they
are perfect sovereign judges, without appeal; but as to the detail of
particular measures, or to any general schemes of policy, they have
neither enough of speculation in the closet, nor of experience in
business, to decide upon it. They can well see whether we are tools of a
court, or their honest servants. Of that they can well judge; and I
wish, that they always exercised their judgment; but of the particular
merits of a measure I have other standards.**** That the frequency of
elections proposed by this bill has a tendency to increase the power and
consideration of the electors, not lessen corruptibility, I do most
readily allow; so far it is desirable; this is what it has, I will tell
you now what it has not: 1st. It has no sort of tendency to increase
their integrity and public spirit, unless an increase of power has an
operation upon voters in elections, that it has in no other situation in
the world, and upon no other part of mankind. 2nd. This bill has no
tendency to limit the quantity of influence in the Crown, to render its
operation more difficult, or to counteract that operation, which it
cannot prevent, in any way whatsoever. It has its full weight, its full
range, and its uncontrolled operation on the electors exactly as it had
before. 3rd. Nor, thirdly, does it abate the interest or inclination of
ministers to apply that influence to the electors: on the contrary, it
renders it much more necessary to them, if they seek to have a majority
in parliament to increase the means of that influence, and redouble
their diligence, and to sharpen dexterity in the application. The whole
effect of the bill is therefore the removing the application of some
part of the influence from the elected to the electors, and further to
strengthen and extend a court interest already great and powerful in
boroughs; here to fix their magazines and places of arms, and thus to
make them the principal, not the secondary theatre of their manoeuvres
for securing a determined majority in parliament. I believe nobody will
deny, that the electors are corruptible. They are men; it is saying
nothing worse of them; many of them are but ill informed in their minds,
many feeble in their circumstances, easily over-reached, easily seduced.
If they are many, the wages of corruption are the lower; and would to
God it were not rather a contemptible and hypocritical adulation than a
charitable sentiment to say, that there is already no debauchery, no
corruption, no bribery, no perjury, no blind fury, and interested
faction among the electors in many parts of this kingdom: nor is it
surprising, or at all blamable, in that class of private men, when they
see their neighbours aggrandised, and themselves poor and virtuous
without that eclat or dignity, which attends men in higher situations.

But admit it were true, that the great mass of the electors were too
vast an object for court influence to grasp, or extend to, and that in
despair they must abandon it; he must be very ignorant of the state of
every popular interest, who does not know, that in all the corporations,
all the open boroughs, indeed in every district of the kingdom, there is
some leading man, some agitator, some wealthy merchant, or considerable
manufacturer, some active attorney, some popular preacher, some
money-lender, etc. etc. who is followed by the whole flock. This is the
style of all free countries.

"--Multum in Fabia valet hic, valet ille Velina;
Cuilibet hic fasces dabit eripietque curule."

These spirits, each of which informs and governs his own little orb, are
neither so many, nor so little powerful, nor so incorruptible, but that
a minister may, as he does frequently, find means of gaining them, and
through them all their followers. To establish, therefore, a very
general influence among electors will no more be found an impracticable
project, than to gain an undue influence over members of parliament.
Therefore I am apprehensive, that this bill, though it shifts the place
of the disorder, does by no means relieve the constitution. I went
through almost every contested election in the beginning of this
parliament, and acted as a manager in very many of them; by which,
though as at a school of pretty severe and rugged discipline, I came to
have some degree of instruction concerning the means, by which
parliamentary interests are in general procured and supported.

Theory, I know, would suppose, that every general election is to the
representative a day of judgment, in which he appears before his
constituents to account for the use of the talent, with which they
intrusted him, and for the improvement he has made of it for the public
advantage. It would be so, if every corruptible representative were to
find an enlightened and incorruptible constituent. But the practice and
knowledge of the world will not suffer us to be ignorant, that the
constitution on paper is one thing, and in fact and experience is
another. We must know, that the candidate, instead of trusting at his
election to the testimony of his behaviour in parliament, must bring the
testimony of a large sum of money, the capacity of liberal expense in
entertainments, the power of serving and obliging the rulers of
corporations, of winning over the popular leaders of political clubs,
associations, and neighbourhoods. It is ten thousand times more
necessary to show himself a man of power, than a man of integrity, in
almost all the elections with which I have been acquainted. Elections,
therefore, become a matter of heavy expense; and if contests are
frequent, to many they will become a matter of an expense totally
ruinous, which no fortunes can bear; but least of all the landed
fortunes, encumbered as they often, indeed as they mostly, are with
debts, with portions, with jointures; and tied up in the hands of the
possessor by the limitations of settlement. It is a material, it is in
my opinion a lasting, consideration in all the questions concerning
election. Let no one think the charges of elections a trivial matter.
The charge therefore of elections ought never to be lost sight of in a
question concerning their frequency; because the grand object you seek
is independence. Independence of mind will ever be more or less
influenced by independence of fortune; and if, every three years, the
exhausting sluices of entertainments, drinkings, open houses, to say
nothing of bribery, are to be periodically drawn up and renewed;--if
government-favours, for which now, in some shape or other, the whole
race of men are candidates, are to be called for upon every occasion, I
see that private fortunes will be washed away, and every, even to the
least, trace of independence borne down by the torrent. I do not
seriously think this constitution, even to the wrecks of it, could
survive five triennial elections. If you are to fight the battle, you
must put on the armour of the ministry; you must call in the public, to
the aid of private, money. The expense of the last election has been
computed (and I am persuaded that it has not been over-rated) at
1,500,000 pounds;--three shillings in the pound more in the land tax.
About the close of the last parliament, and the beginning of this,
several agents for boroughs went about, and I remember well, that it was
in every one of their mouths--"Sir, your election will cost you three
thousand pounds, if you are independent; but if the ministry supports
you, it may be done for two, and perhaps for less;" and, indeed, the
thing spoke itself. Where a living was to be got for one, a commission
in the army for another, a lift in the navy for a third, and
custom-house offices scattered about without measure or number, who
doubts but money may be saved? The treasury may even add money; but
indeed it is superfluous. A gentleman of two thousand a year, who meets
another of the same fortune, fights with equal arms; but if to one of
the candidates you add a thousand a-year in places for himself, and a
power of giving away as much among others, one must, or there is no
truth in arithmetical demonstration, ruin his adversary, if he is to
meet him and to fight with him every third year. It will be said, I do
not allow for the operation of character; but I do; and I know it will
have its weight in most elections; perhaps it may be decisive in some.
But there are few in which it will be prevent great expenses.

The destruction of independent fortunes will be the consequence on the
part of the candidate. What will be the consequence of triennial
corruption, triennial drunkenness, triennial idleness, triennial
law-suits, litigations, prosecutions, triennial phrensy, of society
dissolved, industry interrupted, ruined; of those personal hatreds, that
will never be suffered to soften; those animosities and feuds, which
will be rendered immortal; those quarrels, which are never to be
appeased; morals vitiated and gangrened to the vitals? I think no stable
and useful advantages were ever made by the money got at elections by
the voter, but all he gets is doubly lost to the public; it is money
given to diminish the general stock of the community, which is in the
industry of the subject. I am sure, that it is a good while before he or
his family settle again to their business. Their heads will never cool;
the temptations of elections will be for ever glittering before their
eyes. They will all grow politicians; every one, quitting his business,
will choose to enrich himself by his vote. They will all take the
gauging-rod; new places will be made for them; they will run to the
custom-house quay, their looms and ploughs will be deserted.

So was Rome destroyed by the disorders of continual elections, though
those of Rome were sober disorders. They had nothing but faction,
bribery, bread, and stage plays, to debauch them. We have the
inflammation of liquor superadded, a fury hotter than any of them. There
the contest was only between citizen and citizen; here you have the
contest of ambitious citizens on one side, supported by the Crown, to
oppose to the efforts (let it be so) of private and unsupported ambition
on the other. Yet Rome was destroyed by the frequency and charge of
elections, and the monstrous expense of an unremitted courtship to the
people. I think, therefore, the independent candidate and elector may
each be destroyed by it; the whole body of the community be an infinite
sufferer; and a vitious ministry the only gainer.


In a Christian commonwealth the church and the state are one and the
same thing, being different integral parts of the same whole. For the
church has been always divided into two parts, the clergy and the
laity; of which the laity is as much an essential integral part, and
has as much its duties and privileges, as the clerical member; and in
the rule, order, and government of the church has its share. Religion
is so far, in my opinion, from being out of the province of the duty of
a Christian magistrate, that it is, and it ought to be, not only his
care, but the principal thing in his care; because it is one of the
great bonds of human society; and its object the supreme good, the
ultimate end and object of man himself. The magistrate, who is a man,
and charged with the concerns of men, and to whom very specially
nothing human is remote and indifferent, has a right and a duty to
watch over it with an unceasing vigilance, to protect, to promote, to
forward it by every rational, just, and prudent means. It is
principally his duty to prevent the abuses, which grow out of every
strong and efficient principle, that actuates the human mind. As
religion is one of the bonds of society, he ought not to suffer it to
be made the pretext of destroying its peace, order, liberty, and its
security. Above all, he ought strictly to look to it when men begin to
form new combinations, to be distinguished by new names, and especially
when they mingle a political system with their religious opinions, true
or false, plausible or implausible.

It is the interest, and it is the duty, and because it is the interest
and the duty, it is the right of government to attend much to opinions;
because, as opinions soon combine with passions, even when they do not
produce them, they have much influence on actions. Factions are formed
upon opinions; which factions become in effect bodies corporate in the
state;--nay, factions generate opinions in order to become a centre of
union, and to furnish watch-words to parties; and this may make it
expedient for government to forbid things in themselves innocent and
neutral. I am not fond of defining with precision what the ultimate
rights of the sovereign supreme power in providing for the safety of the
commonwealth may be, or may not extend to. It will signify very little
what my notions, or what their own notions, on the subject may be;
because, according to the exigence, they will take, in fact, the steps
which seem to them necessary for the preservation of the whole; for as
self-preservation in individuals is the first law of nature, the same
will prevail in societies, who will, right or wrong, make that an object
paramount to all other rights whatsoever.


The bottom of this theory of persecution is false. It is not permitted
to us to sacrifice the temporal good of any body of men to our own ideas
of the truth and falsehood of any religious opinions. By making men
miserable in this life, they counteract one of the great ends of
charity; which is, inasmuch as in us lies, to make men happy in every
period of their existence, and most in what most depends upon us. But
give to these old persecutors their mistaken principle, in their
reasoning they are consistent, and in their tempers they may be even
kind and good-natured. But whenever a faction would render millions of
mankind miserable, some millions of the race co-existent with
themselves, and many millions in their succession, without knowing, or
so much as pretending to ascertain, the doctrines of their own school
(in which there is much of the lash and nothing of the lesson), the
errors, which the persons in such a faction fall into, are not those
that are natural to human imbecility, nor is the least mixture of
mistaken kindness to mankind an ingredient in the severities they
inflict. The whole is nothing but pure and perfect malice. It is,
indeed, a perfection in that kind belonging to beings of a higher order
than man, and to them we ought to leave it. This kind of persecutors,
without zeal, without charity, know well enough, that religion, to pass
by all questions of the truth or falsehood of any of its particular
systems (a matter I abandon to the theologians on all sides), is a
source of great comfort to us mortals in this our short but tedious
journey through the world. They know, that to enjoy this consolation,
men must believe their religion upon some principle or other, whether of
education, habit, theory, or authority. When men are driven from any of
those principles, on which they have received religion, without
embracing with the same assurance and cordiality some other system, a
dreadful void is left in their minds, and a terrible shock is given to
their morals. They lose their guide, their comfort, their hope. None but
the most cruel and hard-hearted of men, who had banished all natural
tenderness from their minds, such as those beings of iron, the atheists,
could bring themselves to any persecution like this. Strange it is, but
so it is, that men, driven by force from their habits in one mode of
religion, have, by contrary habits, under the same force, often quietly
settled in another. They suborn their reason to declare in favour of
their necessity. Man and his conscience cannot always be at war. If the
first races have not been able to make a pacification between the
conscience and the convenience, their descendants come generally to
submit to the violence of the laws, without violence to their minds.


The legislature of Ireland, like all legislatures, ought to frame its
laws to suit the people and the circumstances of the country, and not
any longer to make it their whole business to force the nature, the
temper, and the inveterate habits of a nation to a conformity to
speculative systems concerning any kind of laws. Ireland has an
established government, and a religion legally established, which are to
be preserved. It has a people, who are to be preserved too, and to be
led by reason, principle, sentiment, and interest to acquiesce in that
government. Ireland is a country under peculiar circumstances. The
people of Ireland are a very mixed people; and the quantities of the
several ingredients in the mixture are very much disproportioned to each
other. Are we to govern this mixed body as if it were composed of the
most simple elements, comprehending the whole in one system of
benevolent legislation; or are we not rather to provide for the several
parts according to the various and diversified necessities of the
heterogeneous nature of the mass? Would not common reason and common
honesty dictate to us the policy of regulating the people in the several
descriptions of which they are composed, according to the natural ranks
and classes of an orderly civil society, under a common protecting
sovereign, and under a form of constitution favourable at once to
authority and to freedom; such as the British constitution boasts to be,
and such as it is, to those who enjoy it?


I have observed the affectation which, for many years past, has
prevailed in Paris even to a degree perfectly childish, of idolizing
the memory of your Henry the Fourth. If anything could put any one out
of humour with that ornament to the kingly character, it would be this
overdone style of insidious panegyric. The persons who have worked this
engine the most busily are those who have ended their panegyrics in
dethroning his successor and descendant; a man, as good natured, at the
least, as Henry the Fourth; altogether as fond of his people; and who
has done infinitely more to correct the ancient vices of the state than
that great monarch did, or we are sure he ever meant to do. Well it is
for his panegyrists that they have not him to deal with. For Henry of
Navarre was a resolute, active, and politic prince. He possessed indeed
great humanity and mildness; but a humanity and mildness that never
stood in the way of his interests. He never sought to be loved without
putting himself first in a condition to be feared. He used soft
language with determined conduct. He asserted and maintained his
authority in the gross, and distributed his acts of concession only in
the detail. He spent the income of his prerogative nobly; but he took
care not to break in upon the capital; never abandoning for a moment
any of the claims which he made under the fundamental laws, nor sparing
to shed the blood of those who opposed him, often in the field,
sometimes upon the scaffold. Because he knew how to make his virtues
respected by the ungrateful, he has merited the praises of those, whom
if they had lived in his time, he would have shut up in the Bastile,
and brought to punishment along with the regicides whom he hanged after
he had famished Paris into a surrender.


In a discussion which took place in the year 1790, Mr. Burke declared
his intention, in case the motion for repealing the Test Acts had been
agreed to, of proposing to substitute the following test in the room of
what was intended to be repealed. "I, A.B. do, in the presence of God,
sincerely profess and believe, that a religious establishment in this
state is not contrary to the law of God, or disagreeable to the law of
nature, or to the true principles of the Christian religion, or that it
is noxious to the community; and I do sincerely promise and engage,
before God, that I never will, by any conspiracy, contrivance, or
political device whatever, attempt, or abet others in any attempt, to
subvert the constitution of the church of England, as the same is now by
law established, and that I will not employ any power or influence,
which I may derive from any office corporate, or any other office which
I hold, or shall hold, under his majesty, his heirs and successors, to
destroy and subvert the same; or, to cause members to be elected into
any corporation, or into parliament, give my vote in the election of any
member or members of parliament, or into any office, for or on account
of their attachment to any other or different religious opinions or
establishments, or with any hope, that they may promote the same to the
prejudice of the established church; but will dutifully and peaceably
content myself with my private liberty of conscience, as the same is
allowed by law.

"So help me God."


If, however, you could find out these pedigrees of guilt, I do not think
the difference would be essential. History records many things, which
ought to make us hate evil actions; but neither history, nor morals, nor
policy, can teach us to punish innocent men on that account. What lesson
does the iniquity of prevalent factions read to us? It ought to lesson
us into an abhorrence of the abuse of our own power in our own day; when
we hate its excesses so much in other persons and in other times. To
that school true statesmen ought to be satisfied to leave mankind. They
ought not to call from the dead all the discussions and litigations
which formerly inflamed the furious factions, which had torn their
country to pieces; they ought not to rake into the hideous and
abominable things, which were done in the turbulent fury of an injured,
robbed, and persecuted people, and which were afterwards cruelly
revenged in the execution, and as outrageously and shamefully
exaggerated in the representation, in order, a hundred and fifty years
after, to find some colour for justifying them in the eternal
proscription and civil excommunication of a whole people.


This business appears in two points of view. 1. Whether it is a matter
of grievance. 2. Whether it is within our province to redress it with
propriety and prudence. Whether it comes properly before us on a
petition upon matter of grievance, I would not inquire too curiously. I
know, technically speaking, that nothing agreeable to law can be
considered as a grievance. But an over-attention to the rules of any
act does sometimes defeat the ends of it, and I think it does so in
this parliamentary act, as much at least as in any other. I know many
gentlemen think, that the very essence of liberty consists in being
governed according to law; as if grievances had nothing real and
intrinsic; but I cannot be of that opinion. Grievances may subsist by
law. Nay, I do not know whether any grievance can be considered as
intolerable until it is established and sanctified by law. If the act
of toleration were not perfect, if there were a complaint of it, I
would gladly consent to amend it. But when I heard a complaint of a
pressure on religious liberty, to my astonishment, I find that there
was no complaint whatsoever of the insufficiency of the act of King
William, nor any attempt to make it more sufficient. The matter
therefore does not concern toleration, but establishment; and it is not
the rights of private conscience that are in question, but the
propriety of the terms, which are proposed by law as a title to public
emoluments; so that the complaint is not, that there is not toleration
of diversity in opinion, but that diversity in opinion is not rewarded
by bishoprics, rectories, and collegiate stalls. When gentlemen
complain of the subscription as matter of grievance, the complaint
arises from confounding private judgment, whose rights are anterior to
law, and the qualifications, which the law creates for its own
magistracies, whether civil or religious. To take away from men their
lives, their liberty, or their property, those things, for the
protection of which society was introduced, is great hardship and
intolerable tyranny; but to annex any condition you please to benefits,
artificially created, is the most just, natural, and proper thing in
the world. When e novo you form an arbitrary benefit, an advantage,
pre-eminence, or emolument, not by nature, but institution, you order
and modify it with all the power of a creator over his creature. Such
benefits of institution are royalty, nobility, priesthood; all of which
you may limit to birth; you might prescribe even shape and stature. The
Jewish priesthood was hereditary. Founders' kinsmen have a preference
in the election of Fellows in many colleges of our universities; the
qualifications at All Souls are, that they should be--optime nati, bene
vestiti, mediocriter docti.

By contending for liberty in the candidate for orders, you take away the
liberty of the elector, which is the people; that is, the state. If they
can choose, they may assign a reason for their choice; if they can
assign a reason, they may do it in writing, and prescribe it as a
condition; they may transfer their authority to their representatives,
and enable them to exercise the same. In all human institutions a great
part, almost all regulations, are made from the mere necessity of the
case, let the theoretical merits of the question be what they will. For
nothing happened at the reformation, but what will happen in all such
revolutions. When tyranny is extreme, and abuses of government
intolerable, men resort to the rights of nature to shake it off. When
they have done so, the very same principle of necessity of human
affairs, to establish some other authority, which shall preserve the
order of this new institution, must be obeyed, until they grow
intolerable; and you shall not be suffered to plead original liberty
against such an institution. See Holland, Switzerland.

If you will have religion publicly practised and publicly taught, you
must have a power to say what that religion will be which you will
protect and encourage; and to distinguish it by such marks and
characteristics, as you in your wisdom shall think fit. As I said
before, your determination may be unwise in this as in other matters,
but it cannot be unjust, hard, or oppressive, or contrary to the liberty
of any man, or in the least degree exceeding your province.

It is therefore as a grievance fairly none at all, nothing but what is
essential not only to the order, but to the liberty, of the whole


In France you are now in the crisis of a revolution, and in the
transit from one form of government to another--you cannot see that
character of men exactly in the same situation in which we see it in
this country. With us it is militant; with you it is triumphant; and
you know how it can act when its power is commensurate to its will. I
would not be supposed to confine those observations to any
description of men, or to comprehend all men of any description
within them--No! far from it. I am as incapable of that injustice, as
I am of keeping terms with those who profess principles of extremes;
and who, under the name of religion, teach little else than wild and
dangerous politics. The worst of these politics of revolution is
this: they temper and harden the breast, in order to prepare it for
the desperate strokes which are sometimes used in extreme occasions.
But as these occasions may never arrive, the mind receives a
gratuitous taint; and the moral sentiments suffer not a little, when
no political purpose is served by the depravation. This sort of
people are so taken up with their theories about the rights of man,
that they have totally forgotten his nature. Without opening one new
avenue to the understanding, they have succeeded in stopping up those
that lead to the heart. They have perverted in themselves, and in
those that attend to them, all the well-placed sympathies of the
human breast.

This famous sermon of the Old Jewry breathes nothing but this spirit
through all the political part. Plots, massacres, assassinations, seem
to some people a trivial price for obtaining a revolution. A cheap,
bloodless reformation, a guiltless liberty, appear flat and vapid to
their taste. There must be a great change of scene; there must be a
magnificent stage effect; there must be a grand spectacle to rouse the
imagination, grown torpid with the lazy enjoyment of sixty years'
security, and the still unanimating repose of public prosperity. The
preacher found them all in the French revolution. This inspires a
juvenile warmth through his whole frame. His enthusiasm kindles as he
advances; and when he arrives at his peroration it is in a full blaze.
Then viewing, from the Pisgah of his pulpit, the free, moral, happy,
flourishing, and glorious state of France, as in a bird-eye landscape of
a promised land, he breaks out into rapture.


When any dissenters, or any body of people, come here with a petition,
it is not the number of people, but the reasonableness of the request,
that should weigh with the house. A body of dissenters come to this
house, and say, Tolerate us--we desire neither the parochial advantage
of tithes, nor dignities, nor the stalls of your cathedrals. No! let the
venerable orders of the hierarchy exist with all their advantages. And
shall I tell them, I reject your just and reasonable petition, not
because it shakes the church, but because there are others, while you
lie grovelling upon the earth, that will kick and bite you? Judge which
of these descriptions of men comes with a fair request--that, which
says, Sir, I desire liberty for my own, because I trespass on no man's
conscience;--or the other, which says, I desire that these men should
not be suffered to act according to their consciences, though I am
tolerated to act according to mine. But I sign a body of articles, which
is my title to toleration; I sign no more, because more are against my
conscience. But I desire that you will not tolerate these men, because
they will not go so far as I, though I desire to be tolerated, who will
not go as far as you. No, imprison them, if they come within five miles
of a corporate town, because they do not believe what I do in point of
doctrines. Shall I not say to these men, "Arrangez-vous, canaille?" You,
who are not the predominant power, will not give to others the
relaxation, under which you are yourself suffered to live. I have as
high an opinion of the doctrines of the church as you. I receive them
implicitly, or I put my own explanation on them, or take that which
seems to me to come best recommended by authority. There are those of
the dissenters, who think more rigidly of the doctrine of the articles
relative to predestination, than others do. They sign the article
relative to it ex animo, and literally. Others allow a latitude of
construction. These two parties are in the church, as well as among the
dissenters; yet in the church we live quietly under the same roof. I do
not see why, as long as Providence gives us no further light into this
great mystery, we should not leave things as the Divine wisdom has left
them. But suppose all these things to me to be clear (which Providence
however seems to have left obscure), yet whilst dissenters claim a
toleration in things which, seeming clear to me, are obscure to them,
without entering into the merit of the articles, with what face can
these men say, Tolerate us, but do not tolerate them? Toleration is good
for all, or it is good for none.

The discussion this day is not between establishment on one hand, and
toleration on the other, but between those, who being tolerated
themselves, refuse toleration to others. That power should be puffed up
with pride, that authority should degenerate into rigour, if not
laudable, is but too natural. But this proceeding of theirs is much
beyond the usual allowance to human weakness; it not only is shocking to
our reason, but it provokes our indignation. Quid domini facient, audent
cum talia fures? It is not the proud prelate thundering in his
commission court, but a pack of manumitted slaves with the lash of the
beadle flagrant on their backs, and their legs still galled with their
fetters, that would drive their brethren into that prison-house from
whence they have just been permitted to escape. If, instead of puzzling
themselves in the depths of the Divine counsels, they would turn to the
mild morality of the Gospel, they would read their own condemnation:--O
thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt because thou desiredst
me: shouldest not thou also have compassion on thy fellow-servant, even
as I had pity on thee?


In the last session, the corps called the "king's friends" made a hardy
attempt, all at once, TO ALTER THE RIGHT OF ELECTION ITSELF; to put it
into the power of the House of Commons to disable any person
disagreeable to them from sitting in parliament, without any other rule
than their own pleasure; to make incapacities, either general for
descriptions of men, or particular for individuals; and to take into
their body, persons who avowedly never been chosen by the majority of
legal electors, nor agreeably to any known rule of law.

The arguments upon which this claim was founded and combated, are not my
business here. Never has a subject been more amply and more learnedly
handled, nor upon one side, in my opinion, more satisfactorily; they who
are not convinced by what is already written would not receive

I too have thought on this subject: but my purpose here, is only to
consider it as a part of the favourite project of government; to observe
on the motives which led to it; and to trace its political consequences.

A violent rage for the punishment of Mr. Wilkes was the pretence of the
whole. This gentleman, by setting himself strongly in opposition to the
court cabal, had become at once an object of their persecution, and of
the popular favour. The hatred of the court party pursuing, and the
countenance of the people protecting him, it very soon became not at all
a question on the man, but a trial of strength between the two parties.
The advantage of the victory in this particular contest was the present,
but not the only, nor by any means the principal, object. Its operation
upon the character of the House of Commons was the great point in view.
The point to be gained by the cabal was this; that a precedent should be
established, tending to show, THAT THE FAVOUR OF THE PEOPLE WAS NOT SO
POPULAR TRUSTS. A strenuous resistance to every appearance of lawless
power; a spirit of independence carried to some degree of enthusiasm; an
inquisitive character to discover, and a bold one to display, every
corruption and every error of government; these are the qualities which
recommend a man to a seat in the House of Commons, in open and merely
popular elections. An indolent and submissive disposition; a disposition
to think charitably of all the actions of men in power, and to live in a
mutual intercourse of favours with them; an inclination rather to
countenance a strong use of authority, than to bear any sort of
licentiousness on the part of the people; these are unfavourable
qualities in an open election for members of parliament. The instinct
which carries the people towards the choice of the former, is justified
by reason; because a man of such a character, even in its exorbitances,
does not directly contradict the purposes of a trust, the end of which
is a control on power. The latter character, even when it is not in its
extreme, will execute this trust but very imperfectly; and, if deviating
to the least excess, will certainly frustrate instead of forwarding the
purposes of a control on government. But when the House of Commons was
to be new modelled, is principle was not only to be changed but
reversed. Whilst any errors committed in support of power were left to
the law, with every advantage of favourable construction, of mitigation,
and finally of pardon: all excesses on the side of liberty, or in
pursuit of popular favour, or in defence of popular rights and
privileges, were not only to be punished by the rigour of the known law,
but by a DISCRETIONARY proceeding, which brought on THE LOSS OF THE
POPULAR OBJECT ITSELF. Popularity was to be rendered, if not directly
penal, at least highly dangerous. The favour of the people might lead
even to a disqualification of representing them. Their odium might
become, strained through the medium of two or three constructions, the
means of sitting as the trustee of all that was dear to them. This is
punishing the offence in the offending part. Until this time, the
opinion of the people, through the power of an assembly, still in some
sort popular, led to the greatest honours and emoluments in the gift of
the crown. Now the principle is reversed; and the favour of the court is
the only sure way of obtaining and holding those honours which ought to
be in the disposal of the people.

It signifies very little how this matter may be quibbled away. Example,
the only argument of effect in civil life, demonstrates the truth of my
proposition. Nothing can alter my opinion concerning the pernicious
tendency of this example, until I see some man for his indiscretion in
the support of power, for his violent and intemperate servility,
rendered incapable of sitting in parliament. For as it now stands, the
fault of overstraining popular qualities, and, irregularly if you
please, asserting popular privileges, has led to disqualification; the
opposite fault never has produced the slightest punishment. Resistance
to power has shut the door of the House of Commons to one man;
obsequiousness and servility, to none.

Not that I would encourage popular disorder, or any disorder. But I
would leave such offences to the law, to be punished in measure and
proportion. The laws of this country are for the most part constituted,
and wisely so, for the general ends of government, rather than for the
preservation of our particular liberties. Whatever, therefore, is done
in support of liberty, by persons not in public trust, or not acting
merely in that trust, is liable to be more or less out of the ordinary
course of the law; and the law itself is sufficient to animadvert upon
it with great severity. Nothing indeed can hinder that severe letter
from crushing us, except the temperaments it may receive from a trial by
jury. But if the habit prevail OF GOING BEYOND THE LAW, and superseding
this judicature, of carrying offences, real or supposed, into the
legislative bodies, who shall establish themselves into COURTS OF
CRIMINAL EQUITY (so THE STAR CHAMBER has been called by Lord Bacon), all
the evils of the STAR CHAMBER are revived. A large and liberal
construction in ascertaining offences, and a discretionary power in
punishing them, is the idea of CRIMINAL EQUITY; which is in truth a
monster in jurisprudence. It signifies nothing whether a court for this
purpose be a committee of council, or a house of commons, or a house of
lords; the liberty of the subject will be equally subverted by it. The
true end and purpose of that house of parliament which entertains such a
jurisdiction, will be destroyed by it. I will not believe, what no other
man living believes, that Mr. Wilkes was punished for the indecency of
his publications, or the impiety of his ransacked closet. If he had
fallen in a common slaughter of libellers and blasphemers, I could well
believe that nothing more was meant than was pretended. But when I see,
that, for years together, full as impious, and perhaps more dangerous,
writings to religion, and virtue, and order, have not been punished, nor
their authors discountenanced; that the most audacious libels on royal
majesty have passed without notice; that the most treasonable invectives
against the laws, liberties, and constitution of the country, have not
met with the slightest animadversion; I must consider this as a shocking
and shameless pretence. Never did an envenomed scurrility against
everything sacred and civil, public and private, rage through the
kingdom with such a furious and unbridled licence. All this while the
peace of the nation must be shaken, to ruin one libeller, and to tear
from the populace a single favourite.

Nor is it that vice merely skulks in an obscure and contemptible
impunity. Does not the public behold with indignation, persons not only
generally scandalous in their lives, but the identical persons who, by
their society, their instruction, their example, their encouragement,
have drawn this man into the very faults which have furnished the cabal
with a pretence for his persecution, loaded with every kind of favour,
honour, and distinction, which a court can bestow? Add but the crime of
servility (the foedum crimen servitutis) to every other crime, and the
whole mass is immediately transmuted into virtue, and becomes the just
subject of reward and honour. When therefore I reflect upon this method
pursued by the cabal in distributing rewards and punishments, I must
conclude that Mr. Wilkes is the object of persecution, not on account of
what he has done in common with others who are the objects of reward,
but for that in which he differs from many of them: that he is pursued
for the spirited dispositions which are blended with his vices; for his
unconquerable firmness, for his resolute, indefatigable, strenuous
resistance against oppression.

In this case, therefore, it was not the man that was to be punished, nor
his faults that were to be discountenanced. Opposition to acts of power
was to be marked by a kind of civil proscription. The popularity which
should arise from such an opposition was to be shown unable to protect
it. The qualities by which court is made to the people, were to render
every fault inexpiable, and every error irretrievable. The qualities by
which court is made to power, were to cover and to sanctify everything.
He that will have a sure and honourable seat in the House of Commons,
must take care how he adventures to cultivate popular qualities;
otherwise he may remember the old maxim, Breves et infaustos populi
Romani amores. If, therefore, a pursuit of popularity expose a man to
greater dangers than a disposition to servility, the principle which is
the life and soul of popular elections will perish out of the


It is now given out for the usual purposes, by the usual emissaries,
that Lord Rockingham did not consent to the repeal of this act until he
was bullied into it by Lord Chatham; and the reporters have gone so far
as publicly to assert, in a hundred companies, that the honourable
gentleman under the gallery, who proposed the repeal in the American
committee, had another set of resolutions in his pocket directly the
reverse of those he moved. These artifices of a desperate cause are at
this time spread abroad, with incredible care, in every part of the
town, from the highest to the lowest companies; as if the industry of
the circulation were to make amends for the absurdity of the report.
Sir, whether the noble lord is of a complexion to be bullied by Lord
Chatham, or by any man, I must submit to those who know him. I confess,
when I look back to that time, I consider him as placed in one of the
most trying situations in which, perhaps, any man ever stood. In the
House of Peers there were very few of the ministry, out of the noble
lord's own particular connection (except Lord Egmont, who acted, as far
as I could discern, an honourable and manly part), that did not look to
some other future arrangement, which warped his politics. There were in
both houses new and menacing appearances, that might very naturally
drive any other, than a most resolute minister, from his measure or from
his station. The household troops openly revolted. The allies of
ministry (those, I mean, who supported some of their measures, but
refused responsibility for any) endeavoured to undermine their credit,
and to take ground that must be fatal to the success of the very cause
which they would be thought to countenance. The question of the repeal
was brought on by ministry in the committee of this house, in the very
instant when it was known that more than one court negotiation was
carrying on with the heads of the opposition. Everything, upon every
side, was full of traps and mines. Earth below shook; heaven above
menaced; all the elements of ministerial safety were dissolved. It was
in the midst of this chaos of plots and counterplots; it was in the
midst of this complicated warfare against public opposition and private
treachery, that the firmness of that noble person was put to the proof.
He never stirred from his ground: no, not an inch. He remained fixed and
determined, in principle, in measure, and in conduct. He practised no
managements. He secured no retreat. He sought no apology.

I will likewise do justice, I ought to do it, to the honourable
gentlemen who led us in this house. Far from the duplicity wickedly
charged on him, he acted his part with alacrity and resolution. We all
felt inspired by the example he gave us, down even to myself, the
weakest in that phalanx. I declare for one, I knew well enough (it could
not be concealed from anybody) the true state of things; but, in my
life, I never came with so much spirits into this house. It was a time
for a MAN to act in. We had powerful enemies, but we had faithful and
determined friends; and a glorious cause. We had a great battle to
fight, but we had the means of fighting; not as now, when our arms are
tied behind us. We did fight that day, and conquer.

I remember, Sir, with a melancholy pleasure, the situation of the
honourable gentleman (General Conway.) who made the motion for the
repeal; in that crisis when the whole trading interest of this empire,
crammed into your lobbies, with a trembling and anxious expectation,
waited, almost to a winter's return of light, their fate from your
resolutions. When, at length, you had determined in their favour, and
your doors, thrown open, showed them the figure of their deliverer in
the well-earned triumph of his important victory, from the whole of that
grave multitude there arose an involuntary burst of gratitude and
transport. They jumped upon him like children on a long-absent father.
They clung about him as captives about their redeemer. All England, all
America joined to his applause. Nor did he seem insensible to the best
of all earthly rewards, the love and admiration of his fellow-citizens.
face, to use the expression of the scripture of the first martyr, "his
face was as if it had been the face of an angel." I do not know how
others feel; but if I had stood in that situation, I never would have
exchanged it for all that kings in their profusion could bestow. I did
hope that that day's danger and honour would have been a bond to hold us
all together for ever. But, alas! that, with other pleasing visions, is
long since vanished.

Sir, this act of supreme magnanimity has been represented, as if it had
been a measure of an administration, that having no scheme of their own,
took a middle line, pilfered a bit from one side and a bit from the
other. Sir, they took NO middle lines. They differed fundamentally from
the schemes of both parties; but they preserved the objects of both.
They preserved the authority of Great Britain. They made the Declaratory
Act; they repealed the Stamp Act. They did both FULLY; because the
Declaratory Act was without QUALIFICATION; and the repeal of the Stamp
Act TOTAL. This they did in the situation I have described.


It is plain that the mind of this POLITICAL preacher was at the time big
with some extraordinary design; and it is very probable that the
thoughts of his audience, who understood him better than I do, did all
along run before him in his reflection, and in the whole train of
consequences to which it led. Before I read that sermon, I really
thought I had lived in a free country; and it was an error I cherished,
because it gave me a greater liking to the country I lived in. I was
indeed aware, that a jealous, ever-waking vigilance, to guard the
treasure of our liberty, not only from invasion, but from decay and
corruption, was our best wisdom, and our first duty. However, I
considered that treasure rather as a possession to be secured, than as a
prize to be contended for. I did not discern how the present time came
to be so very favourable to all EXERTIONS in the cause of freedom. The
present time differs from any other only by the circumstance of what is
doing in France. If the example of that nation is to have an influence
on this, I can easily conceive why some of their proceedings which have
an unpleasant aspect, and are not quite reconcilable to humanity,
generosity, good faith, and justice, are palliated with so much milky
good-nature towards the actors, and born with so much heroic fortitude
towards the sufferers. It is certainly not prudent to discredit the
authority of an example we mean to follow. But allowing this, we are led
to a very natural question:--What is that cause of liberty, and what are
those exertions in its favour, to which the example of France is so
singularly auspicious? Is our monarchy to be annihilated, with all the
laws, all the tribunals, and all the ancient corporations of the
kingdom? Is every land-mark of the country to be done away in favour of
a geometrical and arithmetical constitution? Is the House of Lords to be
voted useless? Is episcopacy to be abolished? Are the church lands to be
sold to Jews and jobbers; or given to bribe new-invented municipal
republics into a participation in sacrilege? Are all the taxes to be
voted grievances, and the revenue reduced to a patriotic contribution,
or patriotic presents? Are silver shoe-buckles to be substituted in the
place of the land-tax and the malt-tax, for the support of the naval
strength of this kingdom? Are all orders, ranks, and distinctions to be
confounded, that out of universal anarchy, joined to national
bankruptcy, three or four thousand democracies should be formed into
eighty-three, and that they may all, by some sort of unknown attractive
power, be organized into one? For this great end is the army to be
seduced from its discipline and its fidelity, first by every kind of
debauchery, and then by the terrible precedent of a donative in the
increase of pay? Are the curates to be secluded from their bishops, by
holding out to them the delusive hope of a dole out of the spoils of
their own order? Are the citizens of London to be drawn from their
allegiance by feeding them at the expense of their fellow-subjects? Is a
compulsory paper currency to be substituted in the place of the legal
coin of this kingdom? Is what remains of the plundered stock of public
revenue to be employed in the wild project of maintaining two armies to
watch over and to fight with each other? If these are the ends and means
of the Revolution Society, I admit they are well assorted; and France
may furnish them for both with precedents in point. I see that your
example is held out to shame us. I know that we are supposed a dull,
sluggish race, rendered passive by finding our situation tolerable, and
prevented by a mediocrity of freedom from ever attaining to its full
perfection. Your leaders in France began by affecting to admire, almost
to adore, the British constitution; but, as they advanced, they came to
look upon it with a sovereign contempt. The friends of your National
Assembly amongst us have full as mean an opinion of what was formerly
thought the glory of their country. The Revolution Society has
discovered that the English nation is not free. They are convinced that
the inequality in our representation is a"defect in our constitution SO
GROSS AND PALPABLE, as to make it excellent chiefly in FORM and THEORY."
(Discourse on the Love of our Country, 3rd edition page 39.) That a
representation in the legislature of a kingdom is not only the basis of
all constitutional liberty in it, but of "ALL LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT;
that without it a GOVERNMENT is nothing but a USURPATION;"--that "when
the representation is PARTIAL, the kingdom possesses liberty only
PARTIALLY; and if extremely partial it gives only a SEMBLANCE; and if
not only extremely partial, but corruptly chosen, it becomes a
NUISANCE." Dr. Price considers this inadequacy of representation as our
FUNDAMENTAL GRIEVANCE; and though, as to the corruption of this
semblance of representation, he hopes it is not yet arrived to its full
perfection of depravity, he fears that "nothing will be done towards
gaining for us this ESSENTIAL BLESSING, until some GREAT ABUSE OF POWER
again provokes our resentment, or some GREAT CALAMITY again alarms our
fears, or perhaps till the acquisition of a PURE AND EQUAL
kindles our shame." To this he subjoins a note in these words. "A
representation chosen chiefly by the treasury, and a FEW thousands of
the DREGS of the people, who are generally paid for their votes."

You will smile here at the consistency of those democratists, who, when
they are not on their guard, treat the humbler part of the community
with the greatest contempt, whilst, at the same time, they pretend to
make them the depositories of all power. It would require a long
discourse to point out to you the many fallacies that lurk in the
generality and equivocal nature of the terms "inadequate
representation." I shall only say here, in justice to that old-fashioned
constitution, under which we have long prospered, that our
representation has been found perfectly adequate to all the purposes for
which a representation of the people can be desired or devised. I defy
the enemies of our constitution to show the contrary. To detail the
particulars in which it is found so well to promote its ends, would
demand a treatise on our practical constitution. I state here the
doctrine of the revolutionists, only that you and others may see, what
an opinion these gentlemen entertain of the constitution of their
country, and why they seem to think that some great abuse of power, or
some great calamity, as giving a chance for the blessing of a
constitution according to their ideas, would be much palliated to their
feelings; you see WHY THEY are so much enamoured of your fair and equal
representation, which being once obtained, the same effects might
follow. You see they consider our House of Commons as only "a
semblance," "a form," "a theory," "a shadow," "a mockery," perhaps "a


There is nothing more memorable in history than the actions,
fortunes, and character of this great man; whether we consider the
grandeur of the plans he formed, the courage and wisdom with which
they were executed, or the splendour of that success, which, adorning
his youth, continued without the smallest reserve to support his age
even to the last moments of his life. He lived above seventy years,
and reigned within ten years as long as he lived: sixty over his
dukedom, above twenty over England; both of which he acquired or kept
by his own magnanimity, with hardly any other title than he derived
from his arms; so that he might be reputed, in all respects, as happy
as the highest ambition, the most fully gratified, can make a man.
The silent inward satisfactions of domestic happiness he neither had
nor sought. He had a body suited to the character of his mind, erect,
firm, large, and active; whilst to be active was a praise; a
countenance stern, and which became command. Magnificent in his
living, reserved in his conversation, grave in his common deportment,
but relaxing with a wise facetiousness, he knew how to relieve his
mind and preserve his dignity; for he never forfeited by a personal
acquaintance that esteem he had acquired by his great actions.
Unlearned in books, he formed his understanding by the rigid
discipline of a large and complicated experience. He knew men much,
and therefore generally trusted them but little; but when he knew any
man to be good, he reposed in him an entire confidence, which
prevented his prudence from degenerating into a vice. He had vices in
his composition, and great ones; but they were the vices of a great
mind: ambition, the malady of every extensive genius; and avarice,
the madness of the wise: one chiefly actuated his youth; the other
governed his age. The vices of young and light minds, the joys of
wine, and the pleasures of love, never reached his aspiring nature.
The general run of men he looked on with contempt, and treated with
cruelty when they opposed him. Nor was the rigour of his mind to be
softened but with the appearance of extraordinary fortitude in his
enemies, which, by a sympathy congenial to his own virtues, always
excited his admiration, and insured his mercy. So that there were
often seen in this one man, at the same time, the extremes of a
savage cruelty, and a generosity, that does honour to human nature.
Religion, too, seemed to have a great influence on his mind from
policy, or from better motives; but his religion was displayed in the
regularity with which he performed his duties, not in the submission
he showed to its ministers, which was never more than what good
government required. Yet his choice of a counsellor and favourite was
not, according to the mode of the time, out of that order, and a
choice that does honour to his memory. This was Lanfranc, a man of
great learning for the times, and extraordinary piety. He owed his
elevation to William; but, though always inviolably faithful, he
never was the tool or flatterer of the power which raised him; and
the greater freedom he showed, the higher he rose in the confidence
of his master. By mixing with the concerns of state he did not lose
his religion and conscience, or make them the covers or instruments
of ambition; but tempering the fierce policy of a new power by the
mild lights of religion, he became a blessing to the country in which
he was promoted. The English owed to the virtue of this stranger, and
the influence he had on the king, the little remains of liberty they
continued to enjoy; and at last such a degree of his confidence, as
in some sort counterbalanced the severities of the former part of his


When Alfred had once more reunited the kingdoms of his ancestors, he
found the whole face of things in the most desperate condition; there
was no observance of law and order; religion had no force; there was no
honest industry; the most squalid poverty, and the grossest ignorance,
had overspread the whole kingdom. Alfred at once enterprised the cure of
all these evils. To remedy the disorders in the government, he revived,
improved, and digested all the Saxon institutions; insomuch that he is
generally honoured as the founder of our laws and constitution.
(Historians, copying after one another, and examining little, have
attributed to this monarch the institution of juries; an institution
which certainly did never prevail amongst the Saxons. They have likewise
attributed to him the distribution of England into shires, hundreds, and
tithings, and of appointing officers over these divisions. But it is
very obvious that the shires were never settled upon any regular plan,
nor are they the result of any single design. But these reports, however
ill imagined, are a strong proof of the high veneration in which this
excellent prince has always been held; as it has been thought that the
attributing these regulations to him would endear them to the nation. He
probably settled them in such an order, and made such reformations in
his government, that some of the institutions themselves, which he
improved, have been attributed to him; and indeed there was one work of
his, which serves to furnish us with a higher idea of the political
capacity of that great man than any of these fictions. He made a general
survey and register of all the property in the kingdom, who held it, and
what it was distinctly; a vast work for an age of ignorance and time of
confusion, which has been neglected in more civilized nations and
settled times. It was called the "Roll of Winton," and served as a model
of a work of the same kind made by William the Conqueror.) The shire he
divided into hundreds; the hundreds into tithings; every freeman was
obliged to be entered into some tithing, the members of which were
mutually bound for each other for the preservation of the peace, and the
avoiding theft and rapine. For securing the liberty of the subject, he
introduced the method of giving bail, the most certain fence against the
abuses of power. It has been observed, that the reigns of weak princes
are times favourable to liberty; but the wisest and bravest of all the
English princes is the father of their freedom. This great man was even
jealous of the privileges of his subjects; and as his whole life was
spent in protecting them, his last will breathes the same spirit,
declaring, that he had left his people as free as their own thoughts. He
not only collected with great care a complete body of laws, but he wrote
comments on them for the instruction of his judges, who were in general
by the misfortune of the time ignorant; and if he took care to correct
their ignorance, he was rigorous towards their corruption. He inquired
strictly into their conduct; he heard appeals in person; he held his
Wittena-Gemotes, or parliaments, frequently, and kept every part of his
government in health and vigour.

Nor was he less solicitous for the defence, than he had shown himself
for the regulation, of his kingdom. He nourished with particular care
the new naval strength, which he had established; he built forts and
castles in the most important posts; he settled beacons to spread an
alarm on the arrival of an enemy; and ordered his militia in such a
manner, that there was always a great power in readiness to march, well
appointed and well disciplined. But that a suitable revenue might not be
wanting for the support of his fleets and fortifications, he gave great
encouragement to trade; which by the piracies on the coasts, and the
rapine and injustice exercised by the people within, had long become a
stranger to this island.

In the midst of these various and important cares, he gave a peculiar
attention to learning, which by the rage of the late wars had been
entirely extinguished in his kingdom. "Very few there were (says this
monarch) on this side the Humber, that understood their ordinary
prayers; or that were able to translate any Latin book into English; so
few, that I do not remember even one qualified to the southward of the
Thames when I began my reign." To cure this deplorable ignorance, he was
indefatigable in his endeavours to bring into England men of learning in
all branches from every part of Europe; and unbounded in his liberality
to them. He enacted by a law, that every person possessed of two hides
of land should send their children to school until sixteen. Wisely
considering where to put a stop to his love even of the liberal arts,
which are only suited to a liberal condition, he enterprised yet a
greater design than that of forming the growing generation,--to instruct
even the grown; enjoining all his earldormen and sheriffs immediately to
apply themselves to learning or to quit their offices. To facilitate
these great purposes, he made a regular foundation of a university,
which with great reason is believed to have been at Oxford. Whatever
trouble he took to extend the benefits of learning amongst his subjects,
he showed the example himself, and applied to the cultivation of his
mind with unparalleled diligence and success. He could neither read nor
write at twelve years old; but he improved his time in such a manner
that he became one of the most knowing men of his age, in geometry, in
philosophy, in architecture, and in music. He applied himself to the
improvement of his native language; he translated several valuable works
from Latin, and wrote a vast number of poems in the Saxon tongue with a
wonderful facility and happiness. He not only excelled in the theory of
the arts and sciences, but possessed a great mechanical genius for the
executive part; he improved the manner of ship-building, introduced a
more beautiful and commodious architecture, and even taught his
countrymen the art of making bricks, most of the buildings having been
of wood before his time; in a word, he comprehended in the greatness of
his mind the whole of government and all its parts at once; and what is
most difficult to human frailty, was the same time sublime and minute.
Religion, which in Alfred's father was so prejudicial to affairs,
without being in him at all inferior in its zeal and fervour, was of a
more enlarged and noble kind; far from being a prejudice to his
government, it seems to have been the principle that supported him in so
many fatigues, and fed like an abundant source his civil and military
virtues. To his religious exercises and studies he devoted a full third
part of his time. It is pleasant to trace a genius even in its smallest
exertions; in measuring and allotting his time for the variety of
business he was engaged in. According to his severe and methodical
custom, he had a sort of wax candles, made of different colours, in
different proportions, according to the time he allotted to each
particular affair; as he carried these about with him wherever he went,
to make them burn evenly, he invented horn lanthorns. One cannot help
being amazed, that a prince, who lived in such turbulent times, who
commanded personally in fifty-four pitched battles, who had so
disordered a province to regulate, who was not only a legislator but a
judge, and who was continually superintending his armies, his navies,
the traffic of his kingdom, his revenues, and the conduct of all his
officers, could have bestowed so much of his time on religious exercises
and speculative knowledge; but the exertion of all his faculties and
virtues seemed to have given a mutual strength to all of them. Thus all
historians speak of this prince, whose whole history was one panegyric;
and whatever dark spots of human frailty may have adhered to such a
character, they are entirely hid in the splendour of his many shining
qualities and grand virtues, that throw a glory over the obscure period
in which he lived, and which is for no other reason worthy of our


The Druids are said to be very expert in astronomy, in geography, and in
all parts of mathematical knowledge. And authors speak, in a very
exaggerated strain, of their excellence in these, and in many other
sciences. Some elemental knowledge I suppose they had; but I can
scarcely be persuaded that their learning was either deep or extensive.
In all countries where Druidism was professed, the youth were generally
instructed by that order; and yet was there little either in the manners
of the people, in their way of life, or their works of art, that
demonstrates profound science, or particularly mathematical skill.
Britain, where their discipline was in its highest perfection, and which
was therefore resorted to by the people of Gaul, as an oracle in
Druidical questions, was more barbarous in all other respects than Gaul
itself, or than any other country then known in Europe. Those piles of
rude magnificence, Stonehenge and Abury, are in vain produced in proof
of their mathematical abilities. These vast structures have nothing
which can be admired, but the greatness of the work; and they are not
the only instances of the great things, which the mere labour of many
hands united, and persevering in their purpose, may accomplish with very
little help from mechanics. This may be evinced by the immense
buildings, and the low state of the sciences, among the original
Peruvians. The Druids were eminent, above all the philosophic lawgivers
of antiquity, for their care in impressing the doctrine of the soul's
immortality on the minds of their people, as an operative and leading
principle. This doctrine was inculcated on the scheme of transmigration,
which some imagine them to have derived from Pythagoras. But it is by no
means necessary to resort to any particular teacher for an opinion which
owes its birth to the weak struggles of unenlightened reason, and to
mistakes natural to the human mind. The idea of the soul's immortality
is indeed ancient, universal, and in a manner inherent in our nature;
but it is not easy for a rude people to conceive any other mode of
existence than one similar to what they had experienced in life; nor any
other world as the scene of such an existence, but this we inhabit,
beyond the bounds of which the mind extends itself with great
difficulty. Admiration, indeed, was able to exalt to heaven a few
selected heroes; it did not seem absurd, that those, who in their mortal
state had distinguished themselves as superior and overruling spirits,
should after death ascend to that sphere, which influences and governs
everything below; or that the proper abode of beings, at once so
illustrious and permanent, should be in that part of nature, in which
they had always observed the greatest splendour and the least mutation.
But on ordinary occasions it was natural some should imagine, that the
dead retired into a remote country, separated from the living by seas or
mountains. It was natural, that some should follow their imagination
with a simplicity still purer, and pursue the souls of men no further
than the sepulchres, in which their bodies had been deposited; whilst
others of deeper penetration, observing that bodies, worn out by age, or
destroyed by accidents, still afforded the materials for generating new
ones, concluded likewise, that a soul being dislodged did not wholly
perish, but was destined, by a similar revolution in nature, to act
again, and to animate some other body. This last principle gave rise to
the doctrine of transmigration; but we must not presume of course, that
where it prevailed it necessarily excluded the other opinions; for it is
not remote from the usual procedure of the human mind, blending, in
obscure matters, imagination and reasoning together, to unite ideas the
most inconsistent. When Homer represents the ghosts of his heroes
appearing at the sacrifices of Ulysses, he supposes them endued with
life, sensation, and a capacity of moving, but he has joined to these
powers of living existence uncomeliness, want of strength, want of
distinction, the characteristics of a dead carcass. This is what the
mind is apt to do; it is very apt to confound the ideas of the surviving
soul and the dead body. The vulgar have always, and still do confound
these very irreconcilable ideas. They lay the scene of apparitions in
churchyards; they habit the ghost in a shroud; and it appears in all the
ghastly paleness of a corpse. A contradiction of this kind has given
rise to a doubt, whether the Druids did in reality hold the doctrine of
transmigration. There is positive testimony, that they did hold it.
There is also testimony as positive, that they buried, or burned with
the dead, utensils, arms, slaves, and whatever might be judged useful to
them, as if they were to be removed into a separate state. They might
have held both these opinions; and we ought not to be surprised to find
error inconsistent.


But whatever was the condition of the other parts of Europe, it is
generally agreed that the state of Britain was the worst of all. Some
writers have asserted, that except those who took refuge in the
mountains of Wales and Cornwall, or fled into Armorica, the British race
was, in a manner, destroyed. What is extraordinary, we find England in a
very tolerable state of population in less than two centuries after the
first invasion of the Saxons; and it is hard to imagine either the
transplantation, or the increase, of that single people to have been, in
so short a time, sufficient for the settlement of so great an extent of
country. Others speak of the Britons, not as extirpated, but as reduced
to a state of slavery; and here these writers fix the origin of personal
and predial servitude in England.

I shall lay fairly before the reader all I have been able to discover
concerning the existence or condition of this unhappy people. That they
were much more broken and reduced than any other nation which had fallen
under the German power, I think may be inferred from two considerations:
first, that in all other parts of Europe the ancient language subsisted
after the conquest, and at length incorporated with that of the
conquerors; whereas in England, the Saxon language received little or no
tincture from the Welsh; and it seems, even among the lowest people, to
have continued a dialect of pure Teutonic to the time in which it was
itself blended with the Norman. Secondly, that on the continent, the
Christian religion, after the northern irruptions, not only remained,
but flourished. It was very early and universally adopted by the ruling
people. In England it was so entirely extinguished, that, when Augustin
undertook his mission, it does not appear that among all the Saxons
there was a single person professing Christianity. The sudden extinction
of the ancient religion and language appears sufficient to show that
Britain must have suffered more than any of the neighbouring nations on
the continent. But it must not be concealed, that there are likewise
proofs, that the British race, though much diminished, was not wholly
extirpated; and that those who remained, were not merely as Britons
reduced to servitude; for they are mentioned as existing in some of the
earlier Saxon laws. In these laws they are allowed a compensation on the
footing of the meaner kind of English; and they are even permitted, as
well as the English, to emerge out of that low rank into a more liberal
condition. This is degradation, but not slavery. (Leges Inae 32 de
Cambrico homine agrum possidente. Id. 54.) The affairs of that whole
period are, however, covered with an obscurity not to be dissipated. The
Britons had little leisure or ability to write a just account of a war
by which they were ruined; and the Anglo-Saxons, who succeeded them,
attentive only to arms, were until their conversion, ignorant of the use
of letters.

It is on this darkened theatre that some old writers have introduced
those characters and actions, which have afforded such ample matter to
poets, and so much perplexity to historians. This is the fabulous and
heroic age of our nation. After the natural and just representations of
the Roman scene, the stage is again crowded with enchanters, giants, and
all the extravagant images of the wildest and most remote antiquity. No
personage makes so conspicuous a figure in these stories as King Arthur;
a prince, whether of British or Roman origin, whether born on this
island or in Armorica, is uncertain; but it appears that he opposed the
Saxons with remarkable virtue, and no small degree of success, which has
rendered him and his exploits so large an argument of romance, that both
are almost disclaimed by history. Light scarce begins to dawn until the
introduction of Christianity, which, bringing with it the use of
letters, and the arts of civil life, affords at once a juster account of
things and facts that are more worthy of relation; nor is there, indeed,
any revolution so remarkable in the English story.

The bishops of Rome had for sometime meditated the conversion of the
Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory, who is surnamed the Great, affected that
pious design with an uncommon zeal; and he at length found a
circumstance highly favourable to it in the marriage of a daughter of
Charibert, a king of the Franks, to the reining monarch of Kent. This
opportunity induced Pope Gregory to commission Augustin, a monk of
Rheims, and a man of distinguished piety, to undertake this arduous

It was in the year of Christ 600, and 150 years after the coming of the
first Saxon colonies into England, that Ethelbert, king of Kent,
received intelligence of the arrival in his dominions of a number of men
in a foreign garb, practising several strange and unusual ceremonies,
who desired to be conducted to the king's presence, declaring that they
had things to communicate to him and to his people of the utmost
importance to their eternal welfare. This was Augustin, with forty of
the associates of his mission, who now landed in the Isle of Thanet, the
same place by which the Saxons had before entered, when they extirpated


It is no excuse at all for a minister, who at our desire takes a measure
contrary to our safety, that it is our own act. He who does not stay the
hand of suicide, is guilty of murder. On our part, I say, that to be
instructed, is not to be degraded or enslaved. Information is an
advantage to us; and we have a right to demand it. He that is bound to
act in the dark cannot be said to act freely. When it appears evident to
our governors that our desires and our interests are at variance, they
ought not to gratify the former at the expense of the latter. Statesmen
are placed on an eminence, that they may have a larger horizon than we
can possibly command. They have a whole before them, which we can
contemplate only in the parts, and often without the necessary
relations. Ministers are not only our natural rulers but our natural
guides. Reason clearly and manfully delivered, has in itself a mighty
force: but reason in the mouth of legal authority, is, I may fairly say,
irresistible. I admit that reason of state will not, in many
circumstances, permit the disclosure of the true ground of a public
proceeding. In that case silence is manly and it is wise. It is fair to
call for trust when the principle of reason itself suspends its public
use. I take the distinction to be this: The ground of a particular
measure, making a part of a plan, it is rarely proper to divulge; all
the broader grounds of policy, on which the general plan is to be
adopted, ought as rarely to be concealed. They, who have not the whole
cause before them, call them politicians, call them people, call them
what you will, are no judges. The difficulties of the case, as well as
its fair side, ought to be presented. This ought to be done; and it is
all that can be done. When we have our true situation distinctly
presented to us, if then we resolve, with a blind and headlong violence,
to resist the admonitions of our friends, and to cast ourselves into the
hands of our potent and irreconcilable foes, then, and not till then,
the ministers stand acquitted before God and man, for whatever may come.


In the change of religion, care was taken to render the transit from
falsehood to truth as little violent as possible. Though the first
proselytes were kings, it does not appear that there was any
persecution. It was a precept of Pope Gregory, under whose auspices this
mission was conducted, that the heathen temples should not be destroyed,
especially where they were well built; but that, first removing the
idols, they should be consecrated anew by holier rites, and to better
purposes (Bed. Hist. Eccl. l. i. c. 30.), in order that the prejudices
of the people might not be too rudely shocked by a declared profanation
of what they had so long held sacred; and that everywhere beholding the
same places, to which they had formerly resorted for religious comfort,
they might be gradually reconciled to the new doctrines and ceremonies
which were there introduced; and as the sacrifices used in the Pagan
worship were always attended with feasting, and consequently were highly
grateful to the multitude, the pope ordered, that oxen should as usual
be slaughtered near the church, and the people indulged in their ancient
festivity. (Id. c. eod.) Whatever popular customs of heathenism were
found to be absolutely not incompatible with Christianity were retained;
and some of them were continued to a very late period. Deer were at a
certain season brought into St. Paul's Church in London, and laid on the
altar (Dugdale's History of St. Paul's.); and this custom subsisted
until the Reformation. The names of some of the church festivals were,
with a similar design, taken from those of the heathen, which had been
celebrated at the same time of the year. Nothing could have been more
prudent than these regulations; they were indeed formed from a perfect
understanding of human nature.

Whilst the inferior people were thus insensibly led into a better order,
the example and countenance of the great completed the work. For the
Saxon kings and ruling men embraced religion with so signal, and in
their rank so unusual, a zeal, that in many instances they even
sacrificed to its advancement the prime objects of their ambition.
Wulfere, king of the West Saxons, bestowed the Isle of Wight on the king
of Sussex, to persuade him to embrace Christianity. (Bed. Hist. Eccl. l.
iv. c. 13.) This zeal operated in the same manner in favour of their
instructors. The greatest kings and conquerors frequently resigned their
crowns, and shut themselves up in monasteries. When kings became monks,
a high lustre was reflected upon the monastic state, and great credit
accrued to the power of their doctrine, which was able to produce such
extraordinary effects upon persons, over whom religion has commonly the
slightest influence.

The zeal of the missionaries was also much assisted by their superiority
in the arts of civil life. At their first preaching in Sussex, that
country was reduced to the greatest distress from a drought, which had
continued for three years. The barbarous inhabitants, destitute of any
means to alleviate the famine, in an epidemic transport of despair
frequently united forty and fifty in a body, and joining their hands,
precipitated themselves from the cliffs, and were either drowned or
dashed to pieces on the rocks. Though a maritime people, they knew not
how to fish; and this ignorance probably arose from a remnant of
Druidical superstition, which had forbidden the use of that sort of
diet. In this calamity, Bishop Wilfred, their first preacher, collecting
nets, at the head of his attendants, plunged into the sea; and having
opened this great resource of food, he reconciled the desperate people
to life, and their minds to the spiritual care of those who had shown
themselves so attentive to their temporal preservation. (Bed. Hist.
Eccl. l. iv. c. 13.) The same regard to the welfare of the people
appeared in all their actions. The Christian kings sometimes made
donations to the church of lands conquered from their heathen enemies.
The clergy immediately baptized and manumitted their new vassals. Thus
they endeared to all sorts of men doctrines and teachers, which could
mitigate the rigorous law of conquest; and they rejoiced to see religion
and liberty advancing with an equal progress. Nor were the monks in this
time in anything more worthy of their praise than in their zeal for
personal freedom. In the canon, wherein they provided against the
alienation of their lands, among other charitable exceptions to this
restraint, they particularize the purchase of liberty. (Spelm. Concil.
Page 329.) In their transactions with the great the same point was
always strenuously laboured. When they imposed penance, they were
remarkably indulgent to persons of that rank. But they always made them
purchase the remission of corporal austerity by acts of beneficence.
They urged their powerful penitents to the enfranchisement of their own
slaves, and to the redemption of those which belonged to others; they
directed them to the repair of highways, and to the construction of
churches, bridges, and other works of general utility. (Instauret etiam
Dei ecclesiam; et instauret vias publicas, pontibus super aquas
profundas et super caenosas vias; et manumittat servos suos proprios, et
redimat ab aliis hominibus servos suos ad libertatem.--L. Eccl. Edgari
14.) They extracted the fruits of virtue even from crimes, and whenever
a great man expiated his private offences, he provided in the same act
for the public happiness. The monasteries were then the only bodies
corporate in the kingdom; and if any persons were desirous to perpetuate
their charity by a fund for the relief of the sick or indigent, there
was no other way than to confide this trust to some monastery. The monks
were the sole channel, through which the bounty of the rich could pass
in any continued stream to the poor; and the people turned their eyes
towards them in all their distresses.

We must observe, that the monks of that time, especially those from
Ireland (Aidanus Finam et Colmanus mirae sanctitatis fuerunt et
parsimoniae. Adeo enim sacerdotes erant illius temporis ab avaritia
immunes, ut nec territoria nisi coacti acciperent.--Hen. Hunting. apud
Decem. l. iii. page 333. Bed. Hist. Eccl. l. iii. c. 26.), who had a
considerable share in the conversion of all the northern parts, did not
show that rapacious desire of riches, which long disgraced, and finally
ruined, their successors. Not only did they not seek, but seemed even to
shun, such donations. This prevented that alarm, which might have arisen
from an early and declared avarice. At this time the most fervent and
holy anchorites retired to places the furthest that could be found from
human concourse and help, to the most desolate and barren situations,
which even from their horror seemed particularly adapted to men who had
renounced the world. Many persons followed them in order to partake of
their instructions and prayers, or to form themselves upon their
example. An opinion of their miracles after their death drew still
greater numbers. Establishments were gradually made. The monastic life
was frugal, and the government moderate. These causes drew a constant
concourse. Sanctified deserts assumed a new face; the marshes were
drained, and the lands cultivated. And as this revolution seemed rather
the effect of the holiness of the place than of any natural causes, it
increased their credit; and every improvement drew with it a new
donation. In this manner the great abbeys of Croyland and Glastonbury,
and many others, from the most obscure beginnings, were advanced to a
degree of wealth and splendour little less than royal. In these rude
ages, government was not yet fixed upon solid principles, and everything
was full of tumult and distraction. As the monasteries were better
secured from violence by their character, than any other places by laws,
several great men, and even sovereign princes, were obliged to take
refuge in convents, who, when by a more happy revolution in their
fortunes they were reinstated in their former dignities, thought they
could never make a sufficient return for the safety they had enjoyed
under the sacred hospitality of these roofs. Not content to enrich them
with ample possessions, that others also might partake of the protection
they had experienced, they formally erected into an asylum those
monasteries, and their adjacent territory. So that all thronged to that
refuge, who were rendered unquiet by their crimes, their misfortunes, or
the severity of their lords; and content to live under a government, to
which their minds were subject, they raised the importance of their
masters by their numbers, their labour, and above all, by an inviolable

The monastery was always the place of sepulture for the greatest lords
and kings. This added to the other causes of reverence a sort of
sanctity, which, in universal opinion, always attends the repositories
of the dead; and they acquired also thereby a more particular protection
against the great and powerful; for who would violate the tomb of his
ancestors, or his own? It was not an unnatural weakness to think, that
some advantage might be derived from lying in holy places, and amongst
holy persons: and this superstition was fomented with the greatest
industry and art. The monks of Glastonbury spread a notion, that it was
almost impossible any person should be damned, whose body lay in their
cemetery. This must be considered as coming in aid of the amplest of
their resources, prayer for the dead.

But there was no part of their policy, of whatever nature, that procured
to them a greater or juster credit, than their cultivation of learning
and useful arts. For if the monks contributed to the fall of science in
the Roman empire, it is certain, that the introduction of learning and
civility into this northern world is entirely owing to their labours. It
is true, that they cultivated letters only in a secondary way, and as
subsidiary to religion. But the scheme of Christianity is such, that it
almost necessitates an attention to many kinds of learning. For the
Scripture is by no means an irrelative system of moral and divine
truths; but it stands connected with so many histories, and with the
laws, opinions, and manners of so many various sorts of people, and in
such different times, that it is altogether impossible to arrive to any
tolerable knowledge of it, without having recourse to much exterior
inquiry. For which reason the progress of this religion has always been
marked by that of letters. There were two other circumstances at this
time, that contributed no less to the revival of learning. The sacred
writings had not been translated into any vernacular language, and even
the ordinary service of the church was still continued in the Latin
tongue; all, therefore, who formed themselves for the ministry, and
hoped to make any figure in it, were in a manner driven to the study of
the writers of polite antiquity, in order to qualify themselves for
their most ordinary functions. By this means a practice, liable in
itself to great objections, had a considerable share in preserving the
wrecks of literature; and was one means of conveying down to our times
those inestimable monuments, which otherwise, in the tumult of barbarous
confusion on one hand, and untaught piety on the other, must inevitably
have perished. The second circumstance, the pilgrimages of that age, if
considered in itself, was as liable to objection as the former; but it
proved of equal advantage to the cause of literature. A principal object
of these pious journeys was Rome, which contained all the little that
was left in the western world, of ancient learning and taste. The other
great object of those pilgrimages was Jerusalem; this led them into the
Grecian empire, which still subsisted in the East with great majesty and
power. Here the Greeks had not only not discontinued the ancient
studies, but they added to the stock of arts many inventions of
curiosity and convenience that were unknown to antiquity. When,
afterwards, the Saracens prevailed in that part of the world, the
pilgrims had also, by the same means, an opportunity of profiting from
the improvements of that laborious people; and however little the
majority of these pious travellers might have had such objects in their
view, something useful must unavoidably have stuck to them; a few
certainly saw with more discernment, and rendered their travels
serviceable to their country by importing other things besides miracles
and legends. Thus a communication was opened between this remote island
and countries, of which it otherwise could then scarcely have heard
mention made; and pilgrimages thus preserved that intercourse amongst
mankind, which is now formed by politics, commerce, and learned
curiosity. It is not wholly unworthy of observation, that Providence,
which strongly appears to have intended the continual intermixture of
mankind, never leaves the human mind destitute of a principle to effect
it. This purpose is sometimes carried on by a sort of migratory
instinct, sometimes by the spirit of conquest; at one time avarice
drives men from their homes, at another they are actuated by a thirst of
knowledge; where none of these causes can operate, the sanctity of
particular places attracts men from the most distant quarters. It was
this motive which sent thousands in those ages to Jerusalem and Rome;
and now, in a full tide, impels half the world annually to Mecca.

By those voyages, the seeds of various kinds of knowledge and
improvement were at different times imported into England. They were
cultivated in the leisure and retirement of monasteries; otherwise they
could not have been cultivated at all: for it was altogether necessary
to draw certain men from the general rude and fierce society, and wholly
to set a bar between them and the barbarous life of the rest of the
world, in order to fit them for study, and the cultivation of arts and
science. Accordingly, we find everywhere, in the first institutions for
the propagation of knowledge amongst any people, that those, who
followed it, were set apart and secluded from the mass of the community.

The great ecclesiastical chair of this kingdom, for near a century, was
filled by foreigners; they were nominated by the popes, who were in that
age just or politic enough to appoint persons of a merit in some degree
adequate to that important charge. Through this series of foreign and
learned prelates, continual accessions were made to the originally
slender stock of English literature. The greatest and most valuable of
these accessions was made in the time and by the care of Theodorus, the
seventh archbishop of Canterbury. He was a Greek by birth; a man of a
high ambitious spirit, and of a mind more liberal, and talents better
cultivated, than generally fell to the lot of the western prelates. He
first introduced the study of his native language into this island. He
brought with him a number of valuable books in many faculties; and
amongst them a magnificent copy of the works of Homer; the most ancient
and best of poets, and the best chosen to inspire a people, just
initiated into letters, with an ardent love, and with a true taste for
the sciences. Under his influence a school was formed at Canterbury; and
thus the other great fountain of knowledge, the Greek tongue, was opened
in England in the year of our Lord 669.


The common law, as it then prevailed in England, was in a great measure
composed of some remnants of the old Saxon customs, joined to the feudal
institutions brought in at the Norman conquest. And it is here to be
observed, that the constitutions of Magna Charta are by no means a
renewal of the laws of St. Edward, or the ancient Saxon laws, as our
historians and law-writers generally, though very groundlessly, assert.
They bear no resemblance, in any particular, to the laws of St. Edward,
or to any other collection of these ancient institutions. Indeed, how
should they? The object of Magna Charta is the correction of the feudal
policy, which was first introduced, at least in any regular form, at the
Conquest, and did not subsist before it. It may be further observed,
that in the preamble to the Great Charter it is stipulated, that the
barons shall HOLD the liberties, there granted TO THEM AND THEIR HEIRS,
from THE KING AND HIS HEIRS; which shows, that the doctrine of an
unalienable tenure was always uppermost in their minds. Their idea even
of liberty was not (if I may use the expression) perfectly free; and
they did not claim to possess their privileges upon any natural
principle or independent bottom, but, just as they held their lands,
from the king. This is worthy of observation. By the feudal law all
landed property is, by a feigned conclusion, supposed to be derived, and
therefore to be mediately or immediately held, from the Crown. If some
estates were so derived, others were certainly procured by the same
original title of conquest, by which the crown itself was acquired; and
the derivation from the king could in reason only be considered as a
fiction of law. But its consequent rights being once supposed, many real
charges and burthens grew from a fiction made only for the preservation
of subordination; and in consequence of this, a great power was
exercised over the persons and estates of the tenants. The fines on the
succession to an estate, called in the feudal language "Reliefs," were
not fixed to any certainty; and were therefore frequently made so
excessive, that they might rather be considered as redemptions, or new
purchases, than acknowledgments of superiority and tenure. With respect
to that most important article of marriage, there was, in the very
nature of the feudal holding, a great restraint laid upon it. It was of
importance to the lord, that the person, who received the feud, should
be submissive to him; he had therefore a right to interfere in the
marriage of the heiress, who inherited the feud. This right was carried
further than the necessity required; the male heir himself was obliged
to marry according to the choice of his lord: and even widows, who had
made one sacrifice to the feudal tyranny, were neither suffered to
continue in the widowed state, nor to choose for themselves the partners
of their second bed. In fact, marriage was publicly set up to sale. The
ancient records of the exchequer afford many instances where some women
purchased, by heavy fines, the privilege of a single life; some the free
choice of a husband; others the liberty of rejecting some person
particularly disagreeable. And, what may appear extraordinary, there are
not wanting examples, where a woman has fined in a considerable sum,
that she might not be compelled to marry a certain man; the suitor on
the other hand has outbid her; and solely by offering more for the
marriage than the heiress could to prevent it, he carried his point
directly and avowedly against her inclinations. Now, as the king claimed
no right over his immediate tenants, that they did not exercise in the
same, or in a more oppressive manner over their vassals, it is hard to
conceive a more general and cruel grievance than this shameful market,
which so universally outraged the most sacred relations among mankind.
But the tyranny over women was not over with the marriage. As the king
seized into his hands the estate of every deceased tenant in order to
secure his relief, the widow was driven often by a heavy composition to
purchase the admission to her dower, into which it should seem she could
not enter without the king's consent.

All these were marks of a real and grievous servitude. The Great Charter
was made not to destroy the root, but to cut short the overgrown
branches, of the feudal service; first, in moderating, and in reducing
to a certainty, the reliefs, which the king's tenants paid on succeeding
to their estate according to their rank; and secondly, in taking off
some of the burthens, which had been laid on marriage, whether
compulsory or restrictive, and thereby preventing that shameful market,
which had been made in the persons of heirs, and the most sacred things
amongst mankind.

There were other provisions made in the Great Charter, that went deeper
than the feudal tenure, and affected the whole body of the civil
government. A great part of the king's revenue then consisted in the
fines and amercements, which were imposed in his courts. A fine was paid
there for liberty to commence, or to conclude a suit. The punishment of
offences by fine was discretionary; and this discretionary power had
been very much abused. But by Magna Charta things were so ordered, that
a delinquent might be punished, but not ruined, by a fine or amercement,
because the degree of his offence, and the rank he held, were to be
taken into consideration. His freehold, his merchandise, and those
instruments, by which he obtained his livelihood, were made sacred from
such impositions. A more grand reform was made with regard to the
administration of justice. The kings in those days seldom resided long
in one place, and their courts followed their persons. This erratic
justice must have been productive of infinite inconvenience to the
litigants. It was now provided, that civil suits, called COMMON PLEAS,
should be fixed to some certain place. Thus one branch of jurisdiction
was separated from the king's court, and detached from his person. They
had not yet come to that maturity of jurisprudence as to think this
might be made to extend to criminal law also; and that the latter was an
object of still greater importance. But even the former may be
considered as a great revolution. A tribunal, a creature of mere law,
independent of personal power, was established, and this separation of a
king's authority from his person was a matter of vast consequence
towards introducing ideas of freedom, and confirming the sacredness and
majesty of laws.

But the grand article, and that which cemented all the parts of the
fabric of liberty, was this: "that no freeman shall be taken or
imprisoned, or disseized, or outlawed, or banished, or in any wise
destroyed, but by judgment of his peers."

There is another article of nearly as much consequence as the former,
considering the state of the nation at that time, by which it is
provided, that the barons shall grant to their tenants the same
liberties which they had stipulated for themselves. This prevented the
kingdom from degenerating into the worst imaginable government, a feudal
aristocracy. The English barons were not in the condition of those great
princes, who had made the French monarchy so low in the preceding
century; or like those, who reduced the imperial power to a name. They
had been brought to moderate bounds by the policy of the first and
second Henrys, and were not in a condition to set up for petty
sovereigns by an usurpation equally detrimental to the Crown and the
people. They were able to act only in confederacy; and this common cause
made it necessary to consult the common good, and to study popularity by
the equity of their proceedings. This was a very happy circumstances to
the growing liberty.


Before the period of which we are going to treat, England was little
known or considered in Europe. Their situation, their domestic
calamities, and their ignorance, circumscribed the views and politics of
the English within the bounds of their own island. But the Norman
conqueror threw down all these barriers. The English laws, manners, and
maxims, were suddenly changed; the scene was enlarged; and the
communication with the rest of Europe being thus opened, has been
preserved ever since in a continued series of wars and negotiations.
That we may therefore enter more fully into the matters which lie before
us, it is necessary that we understand the state of the neighbouring
continent at the time when this island first came to be interested in
its affairs.

The northern nations, who had overrun the Roman empire, were at first
rather actuated by avarice than ambition, and were more intent upon
plunder than conquest; they were carried beyond their original purposes,
when they began to form regular governments, for which they had been
prepared by no just ideas of legislation. For a long time, therefore,
there was little of order in their affairs, or foresight in their
designs. The Goths, the Burgundians, the Franks, the Vandals, the Suevi,
after they had prevailed over the Roman empire, by turns prevailed over
each other in continual wars, which were carried on upon no principles
of a determinate policy, entered into upon motives of brutality and
caprice, and ended as fortune and rude violence chanced to prevail.
Tumult, anarchy, confusion, overspread the face of Europe; and an
obscurity rests upon the transactions of that time, which suffers us to
discover nothing but its extreme barbarity.

Before this cloud could be dispersed, the Saracens, another body of
barbarians from the south, animated by a fury not unlike that, which
gave strength to the northern irruptions, but heightened by enthusiasm,
and regulated by subordination and uniform policy, began to carry their
arms, their manners, and religion into every part of the universe. Spain
was entirely overwhelmed by the torrent of their armies; Italy, and the
islands, were harassed by their fleets, and all Europe alarmed by their
vigorous and frequent enterprises. Italy, who had so long sat the
mistress of the world, was by turns the slave of all nations. The
possession of that fine country was hotly disputed between the Greek
emperor and the Lombards, and it suffered infinitely by that contention.
Germany, the parent of so many nations, was exhausted by the swarms she
had sent abroad. However, in the midst of this chaos there were
principles at work, which reduced things to a certain form, and
gradually unfolded a system, in which the chief movers and main springs
were the papal and the imperial powers; the aggrandisement or diminution
of which have been the drift of almost all the politics, intrigues, and
wars, which have employed and distracted Europe to this day.

From Rome the whole western world had received its Christianity. She was
the asylum of what learning had escaped the general desolation; and even
in her ruins she preserved something of the majesty of her ancient
greatness. On these accounts she had a respect and a weight, which
increased every day amongst a simple religious people, who looked but a
little way into the consequences of their actions. The rudeness of the
world was very favourable for the establishment of an empire of opinion.
The moderation with which the popes at first exerted this empire, made
its growth unfelt until it could no longer be opposed. And the policy of
later popes, building on the piety of the first, continually increased
it; and they made use of every instrument but that of force. They
employed equally the virtues and the crimes of the great; they favoured
the lust of kings for absolute authority, and the desire of subjects for
liberty; they provoked war, and mediated peace; and took advantage of
every turn in the minds of men, whether of a public or private nature,
to extend their influence, and push their power from ecclesiastical to
civil; from subjection to independency; from independency to empire.

France had many advantages over the other parts of Europe. The Saracens
had no permanent success in that country. The same hand, which expelled
those invaders, deposed the last of a race of heavy and degenerate
princes, more like eastern monarchs than German leaders, and who had
neither the force to repel the enemies of their kingdom, nor to assert
their own sovereignty. This usurpation placed on the throne princes of
another character; princes, who were obliged to supply their want of
title by the vigour of their administration. The French monarch had need
of some great and respected authority to throw a veil over his
usurpation, and to sanctify his newly-acquired power by those names and
appearances, which are necessary to make it respectable to the people.
On the other hand, the pope, who hated the Grecian empire, and equally
feared the success of the Lombards, saw with joy this new star arise in
the north, and gave it the sanction of his authority. Presently after he
called it to his assistance. Pepin passed the Alps, relieved the pope,
and invested him with the dominion of a large country in the best part
of Italy.

Charlemagne pursued the course which was marked out for him, and put an
end to the Lombard kingdom, weakened by the policy of his father, and
the enmity of the popes, who never willingly saw a strong power in
Italy. Then he received from the hand of the pope the imperial crown,
sanctified by the authority of the Holy See, and with it the title of
emperor of the Romans; a name venerable from the fame of the old empire,
and which was supposed to carry great and unknown prerogatives; and thus
the empire rose again out of its ruins in the West; and what is
remarkable, by means of one of those nations which had helped to destroy
it. If we take in the conquests of Charlemagne, it was also very near as
extensive as formerly; though its constitution was altogether different,
as being entirely on the northern model of government.

From Charlemagne the pope received in return an enlargement and a
confirmation of his new territory. Thus the papal and imperial powers
mutually gave birth to each other. They continued for some ages, and, in
some measure, still continue closely connected, with a variety of
pretensions upon each other, and on the rest of Europe. Though the
imperial power had its origin in France, it was soon divided into two
branches, the Gallic and the German. The latter alone supported the
title of empire; but the power being weakened by this division, the
papal pretensions had the greater weight. The pope, because he first
revived the imperial dignity, claimed a right of disposing of it, or at
least of giving validity to the election of the emperor. The emperor, on
the other hand, remembering the rights of those sovereigns, whose title
he bore, and how lately the power, which insulted him with such demands,
had arisen from the bounty of his predecessors, claimed the same
privileges in the election of a pope. The claims of both were somewhat
plausible; and they were supported, the one by force of arms, and the
other by ecclesiastical influence, powers which in those days were very
nearly balanced. Italy was the theatre upon which this prize was
disputed. In every city the parties in favour of each of the opponents
were not far from an equality in their numbers and strength. Whilst
these parties disagreed in the choice of a master, by contending for a
choice in their subjection, they grew imperceptibly into freedom, and
passed through the medium of faction and anarchy into regular
commonwealths. Thus arose the republics of Venice, of Genoa, of
Florence, Sienna, and Pisa, and several others. These cities,
established in this freedom, turned the frugal and ingenious spirit
contracted in such communities to navigation and traffic; and pursuing
them with skill and vigour, whilst commerce was neglected and despised
by the rustic gentry of the martial governments, they grew to a
considerable degree of wealth, power, and civility.

The Danes, who in this latter time preserved the spirit and the numbers
of the ancient Gothic people, had seated themselves in England, in the
Low Countries, and in Normandy. They passed from thence to the southern
part of Europe, and in this romantic age gave rise in Sicily and Naples
to a new kingdom, and a new line of princes.

All the kingdoms on the continent of Europe were governed nearly in the
same form; from whence arose a great similitude in the manners of their
inhabitants. The feodal discipline extended itself everywhere, and
influenced the conduct of the courts, and the manners of the people,
with its own irregular martial spirit. Subjects, under the complicated
laws of a various and rigorous servitude, exercised all the prerogatives
of sovereign power. They distributed justice, they made war and peace at
pleasure. The sovereign, with great pretensions, had but little power;
he was only a greater lord among great lords, who profited of the
differences of his peers; therefore no steady plan could be well
pursued, either in war or peace. This day a prince seemed irresistible
at the head of his numerous vassals, because their duty obliged them to
war, and they performed this duty with pleasure. The next day saw this
formidable power vanish like a dream, because this fierce undisciplined
people had no patience, and the time of the feudal service was contained
within very narrow limits. It was therefore easy to find a number of
persons at all times ready to follow any standard, but it was hard to
complete a considerable design, which required a regular and continued
movement. This enterprising disposition in the gentry was very general,
because they had little occupation or pleasure but in war; and the
greatest rewards did then attend personal valour and prowess. All that
professed arms, became in some sort on an equality. A knight was the
peer of a king; and men had been used to see the bravery of private
persons opening a road to that dignity. The temerity of adventurers was
much justified by the ill order of every state, which left it a prey to
almost any who should attack it with sufficient vigour. Thus, little
checked by any superior power, full of fire, impetuosity, and ignorance,
they longed to signalize themselves wherever an honourable danger called
them; and wherever that invited, they did not weigh very deliberately
the probability of success. The knowledge of this general disposition in
the minds of men will naturally remove a great deal of our wonder at
seeing an attempt, founded on such slender appearances of right, and
supported by a power so little proportioned to the undertaking as that
of William, so warmly embraced and so generally followed, not only by
his own subjects, but by all the neighbouring potentates. The counts of
Anjou, Bretagne, Ponthieu, Boulogne, and Poictou, sovereign princes;
adventurers from every quarter of France, the Netherlands, and the
remotest parts of Germany, laying aside their jealousies and enmities to
one another, as well as to William, ran with an inconceivable ardour
into this enterprise; captivated with the splendour of the object, which
obliterated all thoughts of the uncertainty of the event. William kept
up this fervour by promises of large territories to all his allies and
associates in the country to be reduced by their united efforts. But
after all it became equally necessary to reconcile to his enterprise the
three great powers, of whom we have just spoken, whose disposition must
have had the most influence on his affairs.

His feudal lord the king of France was bound by his most obvious
interests to oppose the further aggrandisement of one already too potent
for a vassal; but the king of France was then a minor; and Baldwin, earl
of Flanders, whose daughter William had married, was regent of the
kingdom. This circumstance rendered the remonstrance of the French
council against his design of no effect; indeed the opposition of the
council itself was faint; the idea of having a king under vassalage to
their crown might have dazzled the more superficial courtiers; whilst
those, who thought more deeply, were unwilling to discourage an
enterprise, which they believed would probably end in the ruin of the
undertaker. The emperor was in his minority, as well as the king of
France; but by what arts the duke prevailed upon the imperial council to
declare in his favour, whether or no by an idea of creating a balance to
the power of France, if we can imagine that any such idea then
subsisted, is altogether uncertain; but it is certain, that he obtained
leave for the vassals of the empire to engage in his service, and that
he made use of this permission. The pope's consent was obtained with
still less difficulty. William had shown himself in many instances a
friend to the church, and a favourer of the clergy. On this occasion he
promised to improve those happy beginnings in proportion to the means he
should acquire by the favour of the Holy See. It is said that he even
proposed to hold his new kingdom as a fief from Rome. The pope,
therefore, entered heartily into his interests; he excommunicated all
those that should oppose his enterprise, and sent him, as a means of
ensuring success, a consecrated banner.


That Britain was first peopled from Gaul, we are assured by the best
proofs: proximity of situation, and resemblance in language and
manners. Of the time in which this event happened, we must be
contented to remain in ignorance, for we have no monuments. But we
may conclude that it was a very ancient settlement, since the
Carthaginians found this island inhabited when they traded hither for
tin; as the Phoenicians, whose tracks they followed in this commerce,
are said to have done long before them. It is true, that when we
consider the short interval between the universal deluge and that
period, and compare it with the first settlement of men at such a
distance from this corner of the world, it may seem not easy to
reconcile such a claim to antiquity with the only authentic account
we have of the origin and progress of mankind; especially as in those
early ages the whole face of nature was extremely rude and
uncultivated; when the links of commerce, even in the countries first
settled, were few and weak; navigation imperfect; geography unknown;
and the hardships of travelling excessive. But the spirit of
migration, of which we have now only some faint ideas, was then
strong and universal; and it fully compensated all these
disadvantages. Many writers indeed imagine, that these migrations, so
common in the primitive times, were caused by the prodigious increase
of people beyond what their several territories could maintain. But
this opinion, far from being supported, is rather contradicted by the
general appearance of things in that early time, when in every
country vast tracts of land were suffered to lie almost useless in
morasses and forests. Nor is it, indeed, more countenanced by the
ancient modes of life, no way favourable to population. I apprehend
that these first settled countries, so far from being overstocked
with inhabitants, were rather thinly peopled; and that the same
causes, which occasioned that thinness, occasioned also those
frequent migrations, which make so large a part of the first history
of almost all nations. For in these ages men subsisted chiefly by
pasturage or hunting. These are occupations which spread the people
without multiplying them in proportion; they teach them an extensive
knowledge of the country, they carry them frequently and far from
their homes, and weaken those ties which might attach them to any
particular habitation.

It was in a great degree from this manner of life, that mankind became
scattered in the earliest times over the whole globe. But their peaceful
occupations did not contribute so much to that end, as their wars, which
were not the less frequent and violent because the people were few, and
the interests for which they contended of but small importance. Ancient
history has furnished us with many instances of whole nations, expelled
by invasion, falling in upon others, which they have entirely
overwhelmed; more irresistible in their defeat and ruin than in their
fullest prosperity. The rights of war were then exercised with great
inhumanity. A cruel death, or a servitude scarcely less cruel, was the
certain fate of all conquered people; the terror of which hurried men
from habitations to which they were but little attached, to seek
security and repose under any climate, that however in other respects
undesirable, might afford them refuge from the fury of their enemies.
Thus the bleak and barren regions of the north, not being peopled by
choice, were peopled as early, in all probability, as many of the milder
and more inviting climates of the southern world, and thus, by a
wonderful disposition of the Divine Providence, a life of hunting, which
does not contribute to increase, and war, which is the great instrument
in the destruction of men, were the two principal causes of their being
spread so early and so universally over the whole earth. From what is
very commonly known of the state of North America, it need not be said,
how often, and to what distance, several of the nations on that
continent are used to migrate; who, though thinly scattered, occupy an
immense extent of country. Nor are the causes of it less obvious--their
hunting life, and their inhuman wars.

Such migrations, sometimes by choice, more frequently from necessity,
were common in the ancient world. Frequent necessities introduced a
fashion, which subsisted after the original causes. For how could it
happen, but from some universally established public prejudice, which
always overrules and stifles the private sense of men, that a whole
nation should deliberately think it a wise measure to quit their country
in a body, that they might obtain in a foreign land a settlement, which
must wholly depend upon the chance of war? Yet this resolution was
taken, and actually pursued by the entire nation of the Helvetii, as it
is minutely related by Caesar. The method of reasoning which led them to
it, must appear to us at this day utterly inconceivable; they were far
from being compelled to this extraordinary migration by any want of
subsistence at home; for it appears that they raised without difficulty
as much corn in one year as supported them for two; they could not
complain of the barrenness of such a soil.

This spirit of migration, which grew out of the ancient manners and
necessities, and sometimes operated like a blind instinct, such as
actuates birds of passage, is very sufficient to account for the early
habitation of the remotest parts of the earth; and in some sort also
justifies that claim which has been so fondly made by almost all nations
to great antiquity. Gaul, from whence Britain was originally peopled,
consisted of three nations; the Belgae towards the north; the Celtae in
the middle countries; and the Aquitani to the south. Britain appears to
have received its people only from the two former. From the Celtae were
derived the most ancient tribes of the Britons, of which the most
considerable were called Brigantes. The Belgae, who did not even settle
in Gaul until after Britain had been peopled by colonies from the
former, forcibly drove the Brigantes into the inland countries, and
possessed the greatest part of the coast, especially to the south and
west. These latter, as they entered the island in a more improved age,
brought with them the knowledge and practice of agriculture, which
however only prevailed in their own countries; the Brigantes still
continued their ancient way of life by pasturage and hunting. In this
respect alone they differed; so that what we shall say in treating of
their manners is equally applicable to both. And though the Britons were
further divided into an innumerable multitude of lesser tribes and
nations, yet all being the branches of these two stocks, it is not to
our purpose to consider them more minutely.

Britain was in the time of Julius Caesar, what it is at this day in
climate and natural advantages, temperate, and reasonably fertile. But
destitute of all those improvements, which in a succession of ages it
has received from ingenuity, from commerce, from riches and luxury, it
then wore a very rough and savage appearance. The country, forest or
marsh; the habitations, cottages; the cities, hiding-places in woods;
the people, naked, or only covered with skins; their sole employment,
pasturage and hunting. They painted their bodies for ornament or terror,
by a custom general among all savage nations; who being passionately
fond of show and finery, and having no object but their naked bodies on
which to exercise this disposition, have in all times painted or cut
their skins, according to their ideas of ornament. They shaved the beard
on the chin; that on the upper lip was suffered to remain, and grow to
an extraordinary length, to favour the martial appearance, in which they
placed their glory. They were in their natural temper not unlike the
Gauls; impatient, fiery, inconstant, ostentatious, boastful, fond of
novelty; and like all barbarians, fierce, treacherous, and cruel. Their
arms were short javelins, small shields of a slight texture, and great
cutting swords with a blunt point, after the Gaulish fashion.

Their chiefs went to battle in chariots, not unartfully contrived, nor
unskilfully managed. I cannot help thinking it something extraordinary,
and not easily to be accounted for, that the Britons should have been so
expert in the fabric of those chariots, when they seem utterly ignorant
in all other mechanic arts: but thus it is delivered to us. They had
also horse, though of no great reputation in their armies. Their foot
was without heavy armour; it was no firm body; nor instructed to
preserve their ranks, to make their evolutions, or to obey their
commanders; but in tolerating hardships, in dexterity of forming
ambuscades (the art military of savages), they are said to have
excelled. A natural ferocity, and an impetuous onset, stood them in the
place of discipline.


Public prosecutions are become little better than schools for
treason; of no use but to improve the dexterity of criminals in the
mystery of evasion; or to show with what complete impunity men may
conspire against the commonwealth; with what safety assassins may
attempt its awful head. Everything is secure, except what the laws
have made sacred; everything is tameness and languor that is not fury
and faction. Whilst the distempers of a relaxed fibre prognosticate
and prepare all the morbid force of convulsion in the body of the
state, the steadiness of the physician is overpowered by the very
aspect of the disease. The doctor of the constitution, pretending to
underrate what he is not able to contend with, shrinks from his own
operation. He doubts and questions the salutary but critical terrors
of the cautery and the knife. He takes a poor credit even from his
defeat, and covers impotence under the mask of lenity. He praises the
moderation of the laws, as, in his hands, he sees them baffled and
despised. Is all this, because in our day the statutes of the kingdom
are not engrossed in as firm a character, and imprinted in as black
and legible a type as ever? No! the law is a clear, but it is a dead
letter. Dead and putrid, it is insufficient to save the state, but
potent to infect and to kill. Living law, full of reason, and of
equity and justice (as it is, or it should not exist), ought to be
severe and awful too; or the words of menace, whether written on the
parchment roll of England, or cut into the brazen tablet of Rome,
will excite nothing but contempt. How comes it, that in all the state
prosecutions of magnitude, from the Revolution to within these two or
three years, the Crown has scarcely ever retired disgraced and
defeated from its courts? Whence this alarming change? By a
connection easily felt, and not impossible to be traced to its cause,
all the parts of the state have their correspondence and consent.
They who bow to the enemy abroad, will not be of power to subdue the
conspirator at home. It is impossible not to observe, that, in
proportion as we approximate to the poisonous jaws of anarchy, the
fascination grows irresistible. In proportion as we are attracted
towards the focus of illegality, irreligion, and desperate
enterprise, all the venomous and blighting insects of the state are
awakened into life. The promise of the year is blasted, and
shrivelled and burned up before them. Our most salutary and most
beautiful institutions yield nothing but dust and smut; the harvest
of our law is no more than stubble. It is in the nature of these
eruptive diseases in the state to sink in by fits, and re-appear. But
the fuel of the malady remains; and in my opinion is not in the
smallest degree mitigated in its malignity, though it waits the
favourable moment of a freer communication with the source of
regicide to exert and to increase its force.

Is it that the people are changed, that the commonwealth cannot be
protected by its laws? I hardly think it. On the contrary, I conceive
that these things happen because men are not changed, but remain always
what they always were; they remain what the bulk of us ever must be,
when abandoned to our vulgar propensities, without guide, leader, or
control; that is, made to be full of a blind elevation in prosperity; to
despise untried dangers; to be overpowered with unexpected reverses; to
find no clue in a labyrinth of difficulties, to get out of a present
inconvenience with any risk of future ruin; to follow and to bow to
fortune; to admire successful though wicked enterprise, and to imitate
what we admire; to contemn the government which announces danger from
sacrilege and regicide, whilst they are only in their infancy and their
struggle, but which finds nothing that can alarm in their adult state,
and in the power and triumph of those destructive principles. In a mass
we cannot be left to ourselves. We must have leaders. If none will
undertake to lead us right, we shall find guides who will contrive to
conduct us to shame and ruin.


As to me, I was always steadily of opinion, that this disorder was not
in its nature intermittent. I conceived that the contest, once begun,
could not be laid down again, to be resumed at our discretion; but that
our first struggle with this evil would also be our last. I never
thought we could make peace with the system; because it was not for the
sake of an object we pursued in rivalry with each other, but with the
system itself, that we were at war. As I understood the matter, we were
at war not with its conduct, but with its existence; convinced that its
existence and its hostility were the same.

The faction is not local or territorial. It is a general evil. Where it
least appears in action, it is still full of life. In its sleep it
recruits its strength, and prepares its exertion. Its spirit lies deep
in the corruption of our common nature. The social order which restrains
it, feeds it. It exists in every country in Europe; and among all orders
of men in every country, who look up to France as to a common head. The
centre is there. The circumference is the world of Europe wherever the
race of Europe may be settled. Everywhere else the faction is militant;
in France it is triumphant. In France is the bank of deposit, and the
bank of circulation, of all the pernicious principles that are forming
in every state. It will be a folly scarcely deserving of pity, and too
mischievous for contempt, to think of restraining it in any other
country whilst it is predominant there. War, instead of being the cause
of its force, has suspended its operation. It has given a reprieve, at
least, to the Christian world. The true nature of a Jacobin war, in the
beginning, was, by most of the Christian powers, felt, acknowledged, and
even in the most precise manner declared. In the joint manifesto,
published by the emperor and the king of Prussia, on the 4th of August,
1792, it is expressed in the clearest terms, and on principles which
could not fail, if they had adhered to them, of classing those monarchs
with the first benefactors of mankind. This manifesto was published, as
they themselves express it, "to lay open to the present generation, as
well as to posterity, their motives, their intentions, and the
DISINTERESTEDNESS of their personal views; taking up arms for the
purpose of preserving social and political order amongst all civilized
nations, and to secure to EACH state its religion, happiness,
independence, territories, and real constitution."--"On this ground,
they hoped that all empires and all states would be unanimous; and
becoming the firm guardians of the happiness of mankind, that they could
not fail to unite their efforts to rescue a numerous nation from its own
fury, to preserve Europe from the return of barbarism, and the universe
from the subversion and anarchy with which it was threatened." The whole
of that noble performance ought to be read at the first meeting of any
congress, which may assemble for the purpose of pacification. In that
peace "these powers expressly renounce all views of personal
aggrandisement," and confine themselves to objects worthy of so
generous, so heroic, and so perfectly wise and politic an enterprise. It
was to the principles of this confederation, and to no other, that we
wished our sovereign and our country to accede, as a part of the
commonwealth of Europe. To these principles, with some trifling
exceptions and limitations, they did fully accede. (See Declaration,
Whitehall, October 29, 1793.) And all our friends who took office
acceded to the ministry (whether wisely or not), as I always understood
the matter, on the faith and on the principles of that declaration.

As long as these powers flattered themselves that the menace of force
would produce the effect of force, they acted on those declarations: but
when their menaces failed of success, their efforts took a new
direction. It did not appear to them that virtue and heroism ought to be
purchased by millions of rix-dollars. It is a dreadful truth, but it is
a truth that cannot be concealed; in ability, in dexterity, in the
distinctness of their views, the Jacobins are our superiors. They saw
the thing right from the very beginning. Whatever were the first motives
to the war among politicians, they saw that in its spirit, and for its
objects, it was a CIVIL WAR; and as such they pursued it. It is a war
between the partisans of the ancient, civil, moral, and political order
of Europe, against a sect of fanatical and ambitious atheists which
means to change them all. It is not France extending a foreign empire
over other nations: it is a sect aiming at universal empire, and
beginning with the conquest of France. The leaders of that sect secured
the CENTRE OF EUROPE; and that secured, they knew, that whatever might
be the event of battles and sieges, their CAUSE was victorious. Whether
its territory had a little more or a little less peeled from its
surface, or whether an island or two was detached from its commerce, to
them was of little moment. The conquest of France was a glorious
acquisition. That once well laid as a basis of empire, opportunities
never could be wanting to regain or to replace what had been lost, and
dreadfully to avenge themselves on the faction of their adversaries.
They saw it was a CIVIL WAR. It was their business to persuade their
adversaries that it ought to be a FOREIGN war. The Jacobins everywhere
set up a cry against the new crusade; and they intrigued with effect in
the cabinet, in the field, and in every private society in Europe. Their
task was not difficult. The condition of princes, and sometimes of first
ministers too, is to be pitied. The creatures of the desk, and the
creatures of favour, had no relish for the principles of the
manifestoes. They promised no governments, no regiments, no revenues
from whence emoluments might arise by perquisite or by grant. In truth,
the tribe of vulgar politicians are the lowest of our species. There is
no trade so vile and mechanical as government in their hands. Virtue is
not their habit. They are out of themselves in any course of conduct
recommended only by conscience and glory. A large, liberal, and
prospective view of the interests of states passes with them for
romance; and the principles that recommend it, for the wanderings of a
disordered imagination. The calculators compute them out of their
senses. The jesters and buffoons shame them out of everything grand and
elevated. Littleness in object and in means, to them appears soundness
and sobriety. They think there is nothing worth pursuit, but that which
they can handle; which they can measure with a two-foot rule; which they
can tell upon ten fingers.

Without the principles of the Jacobins, perhaps without any principles
at all, they played the game of that faction. There was a beaten road
before them. The powers of Europe were armed; France had always appeared
dangerous; the war was easily diverted from France as a faction, to
France as a state. The princes were easily taught to slide back into
their old, habitual course of politics. They were easily led to consider
the flames that were consuming France, not as a warning to protect their
own buildings (which were without any party-wall, and linked by a
contignation into the edifice of France), but as a happy occasion for
pillaging the goods, and for carrying off the materials, of their
neighbour's house. Their provident fears were changed into avaricious
hopes. They carried on their new designs without seeming to abandon the
principles of their old policy. They pretended to seek, or they
flattered themselves that they sought, in the accession of new
fortresses, and new territories, a DEFENSIVE security. But the security
wanted was against a kind of power, which was not so truly dangerous in
its fortresses nor in its territories, as in its spirit and its
principles. They aimed, or pretended to aim, at DEFENDING themselves
against a danger from which there can be no security in any DEFENSIVE
plan. If armies and fortresses were a defence against jacobinism, Louis
the Sixteenth would this day reign a powerful monarch over a happy

This error obliged them, even in their offensive operations, to adopt a
plan of war, against the success of which there was something little
short of mathematical demonstration. They refused to take any step which
might strike at the heart of affairs. They seemed unwilling to wound the
enemy in any vital part. They acted through the whole, as if they really
wished the conservation of the Jacobin power, as what might be more
favourable than the lawful government to the attainment of the petty
objects they looked for. They always kept on the circumference; and the
wider and remoter the circle was, the more eagerly they chose it as
their sphere of action in this centrifugal war. The plan they pursued,
in its nature demanded great length of time. In its execution, they, who
went the nearest way to work, were obliged to cover an incredible extent
of country. It left to the enemy every means of destroying this extended
line of weakness. Ill success in any part was sure to defeat the effect
of the whole. This is true of Austria. It is still more true of England.
On this false plan, even good fortune, by further weakening the victor,
put him but the further off from his object.

As long as there was any appearance of success, the spirit of
aggrandisement, and consequently the spirit of mutual jealousy, seized
upon all the coalesced powers. Some sought an accession of territory at
the expense of France, some at the expense of each other, some at the
expense of third parties; and when the vicissitude of disaster took its
turn, they found common distress a treacherous bond of faith and
friendship. The greatest skill conducting the greatest military
apparatus has been employed; but it has been worse than uselessly
employed, through the false policy of the war. The operations of the
field suffered by the errors of the cabinet. If the same spirit
continues when peace is made, the peace will fix and perpetuate all the
errors of the war; because it will be made upon the same false
principle. What has been lost in the field, in the field may be
regained. An arrangement of peace in its nature is a permanent
settlement; it is the effect of counsel and deliberation, and not of
fortuitous events. If built upon a basis fundamentally erroneous, it can
only be retrieved by some of those unforeseen dispensations, which the
all-wise but mysterious Governor of the world sometimes interposes, to
snatch nations from ruin. It would not be pious error, but mad and
impious presumption, for any one to trust in an unknown order of
dispensations, in defiance of the rules of prudence, which are formed
upon the known march of the ordinary providence of God.


National dignity in all treaties I do admit is an important
consideration. They have given us a useful hint on that subject: but
dignity, hitherto, has belonged to the mode of proceeding, not to the
matter of a treaty. Never before has it been mentioned as the standard
for rating the conditions of peace; no, never by the most violent of
conquerors. Indemnification is capable of some estimate: dignity has no
standard. It is impossible to guess what acquisitions pride and ambition
may think fit for their DIGNITY.


I reprobate no form of government merely upon abstract principles. There
may be situations in which the purely democratic form will become
necessary. There may be some (very few, and very particularly
circumstanced) where it would be clearly desirable. This I do not take
to be the case of France, or of any other great country. Until now, we
have seen no examples of considerable democracies. The ancients were
better acquainted with them. Not being wholly unread in the authors, who
had seen the most of those constitutions, and who best understood them,
I cannot help concurring with their opinion, that an absolute democracy,
no more than absolute monarchy, is to be reckoned among the legitimate
forms of government. They think it rather the corruption and degeneracy,
than the sound constitution of a republic. If I recollect rightly,
Aristotle observes, that a democracy has many striking points of
resemblance with a tyranny. (When I wrote this, I quoted from memory,
after many years had elapsed from my reading the passage. A learned
friend has found it, and it is as follows:--

To ethos to auto, kai ampho despotika ton Beltionon, kai ta psephismata,
osper ekei ta epitagmata kai o demagogos kai o kolax, oi autoi kai
analogoi kai malista ekateroi par ekaterois ischuousin, oi men kolakes
para turannois, oi de demagogoi para tois demois tois toioutois.--

"The ethical character is the same; both exercise despotism over the
better class of citizens; and decrees are in the one, what ordinances
and arrets are in the other: the demagogue too, and the court favourite,
are not unfrequently the same identical men, and always bear a close
analogy; and these have the principal power, each in their respective
forms of government, favourites with the absolute monarch, and
demagogues with a people such as I have described."--Arist. Politic.
lib. iv. cap 4.)

Of this I am certain, that in a democracy, the majority of the citizens
is capable of exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority,
whenever strong divisions prevail in that kind of polity, as they often
must; and that oppression of the minority will extend to far greater
numbers, and will be carried on with much greater fury, than can almost
ever be apprehended from the dominion of a single sceptre. In such a
popular persecution, individual sufferers are in a much more deplorable
condition than in any other. Under a cruel prince they have the balmy
compassion of mankind to assuage the smart of their wounds; they have
the plaudits of the people to animate their generous constancy under
their sufferings: but those who are subjected to wrong under multitudes,
are deprived of all external consolation. They seem deserted by mankind,
overpowered by a conspiracy of their whole species. But admitting
democracy not to have that inevitable tendency to party tyranny, which I
suppose it to have, and admitting it to possess as much good in it when
unmixed, as I am sure it possesses when compounded with other forms;
does monarchy, on its part, contain nothing at all to recommend it? I do
not often quote Bolingbroke, nor have his works in general left any
permanent impression on my mind. He is a presumptuous and a superficial
writer. But he has one observation, which, in my opinion, is not without
depth and solidity. He says, that he prefers a monarchy to other
governments, because you can better ingraft any description of republic
on a monarchy, than anything of monarchy upon the republican forms. I
think him perfectly in the right. The fact is so historically; and it
agrees well with the speculation.

I know how easy a topic it is to dwell on the faults of departed
greatness. By a revolution in the state, the fawning sycophant of
yesterday is converted into the austere critic of the present hour. But
steady, independent minds, when they have an object of so serious a
concern to mankind as government under their contemplation, will disdain
to assume the part of satirists and declaimers. They will judge of human
institutions as they do of human characters. They will sort out the good
from the evil, which is mixed in mortal institutions, as it is in mortal


It is not difficult to discern what sort of humanity our government is
to learn from these syren singers. Our government also, I admit with
some reason, as a step towards the proposed fraternity, is required to
abjure the unjust hatred which it bears to this body, of honour and
virtue. I thank God I am neither a minister nor a leader of opposition.
I protest I cannot do what they desire. I could not do it if I were
under the guillotine; or as they ingeniously and pleasantly express it,
"looking out of the little national window." Even at that opening I
could receive none of their light. I am fortified against all such
affections by the declaration of the government, which I must yet
consider as lawful, made on the 29th of October, 1793, and still ringing
in my ears.

("In their place has succeeded a system destructive of all public order,
maintained by proscriptions, exiles, and confiscations without number;
by arbitrary imprisonment; by massacres which cannot be remembered
without horror; and at length by the execrable murder of a just and
beneficent sovereign, and of the illustrious princess, who, with an
unshaken firmness, has shared all the misfortunes of her royal consort,
his protracted sufferings, his cruel captivity, and ignominious death."
They (the allies) have had to encounter acts of aggression without
pretext, open violation of all treaties, unprovoked declarations of war;
in a word, whatever corruption, intrigue, or violence, could effect for
the purpose, openly avowed, of subverting all the institutions of
society, and of extending over all the nations of Europe that confusion,
which has produced the misery of France."-- "This state of things cannot
exist in France without involving all the surrounding powers in one
common danger, without giving them the right, without imposing it upon
them as a duty, to stop the progress of an evil, which exists only by
the successive violation of all law and all property, and which attacks
the fundamental principles by which mankind is united in the bonds of
civil society."--"The king would impose none other than equitable and
moderate conditions, not such as the expense, the risks, and the
sacrifices of the war might justify; but such as his majesty thinks
himself under the indispensable necessity of requiring, with a view to
these considerations, and still more to that of his own security and of
the future tranquillity of Europe. His majesty desires nothing more
sincerely than thus to terminate a war, which he in vain endeavoured to
avoid, and all the calamities of which, as now experienced by France,
are to be attributed only to the ambition, the perfidy, and the violence
of those, whose crimes have involved their own country in misery, and
disgraced all civilized nations."--"The king promises, on his part, the
suspension of hostilities, friendship, and (as far as the course of
events will allow, of which the will of man cannot dispose) security and
protection to all those who, by declaring for a monarchical form of
government, shall shake off the yoke of sanguinary anarchy; of that
anarchy which has broken all the most sacred bonds of society, dissolved
all the relations of civil life, violated every right, confounded every
duty; which uses the name of liberty to exercise the most cruel tyranny,
to annihilate all property, to seize on all possessions: which founds
its power on the pretended consent of the people, and itself carries
fire and sword through extensive provinces for having demanded their
laws, their religion, and their LAWFUL SOVEREIGN."

Declaration sent by his majesty's command to the commanders of his
majesty's fleets and armies employed against France, and to his
majesty's ministers employed at foreign courts.)

This declaration was transmitted not only to our commanders by sea and
land, but to our ministers in every court of Europe. It is the most
eloquent and highly-finished in the style, the most judicious in the
choice of topics, the most orderly in the arrangement, and the most rich
in the colouring, without employing the smallest degree of exaggeration,
of any state paper that has ever yet appeared. An ancient writer,
Plutarch, I think it is, quotes some verses on the eloquence of
Pericles, who is called "the only orator that left stings in the minds
of his hearers." Like his, the eloquence of the declaration, not
contradicting, but enforcing sentiments of the truest humanity, has left
stings that have penetrated more than skin-deep into my mind; and never
can they be extracted by all the surgery of murder, never can the
throbbings they have created be assuaged by all the emolient cataplasms
of robbery and confiscation. I CANNOT love the republic.


To diet a man into weakness and languor, afterwards to give him the
greater strength, has more of the empiric than the rational physician.
It is true that some persons have been kicked into courage; and this is
no bad hint to give to those who are too forward and liberal in
bestowing insults and outrages on their passive companions. But such a
course does not at first view appear a well-chosen discipline to form
men to a nice sense of honour, or a quick resentment of injuries. A long
habit of humiliation does not seem a very good preparative to manly and
vigorous sentiment. It may not leave, perhaps, enough of energy in the
mind fairly to discern what are good terms or what are not. Men low and
dispirited may regard those terms as not at all amiss, which in another
state of mind they would think intolerable: if they grow peevish in this
state of mind, they may be roused, not against the enemy whom they have
been taught to fear, but against the ministry, who are more within their
reach, and who have refused conditions that are not unreasonable, from
power that they have been taught to consider as irresistible.


His majesty did determine; and did take and pursue his resolution. In
all the tottering imbecility of a new government, and with parliament
totally unmanageable, he persevered. He persevered to expel the fears of
his people by his fortitude--to steady their fickleness by his
constancy--to expand their narrow prudence by his enlarged wisdom--to
sink their factious temper in his public spirit. In spite of his people
he resolved to make them great and glorious; to make England, inclined
to shrink into her narrow self, the arbitress of Europe, the tutelary
angel of the human race. In spite of the ministers, who staggered under
the weight that his mind imposed upon theirs, unsupported as they felt
themselves by the popular spirit, he infused into them his own soul, he
renewed in them their ancient heart, he rallied them in the same cause.
It required some time to accomplish this work. The people were first
gained, and through them their distracted representatives. Under the
influence of King William, Holland had rejected the allurements of every
seduction, and had resisted the terrors of every menace. With Hannibal
at her gates, she had nobly and magnanimously refused all separate
treaty, or anything which might for a moment appear to divide her
affection or her interest, or even to distinguish her in identity from
England. Having settled the great point of the consolidation (which he
hoped would be eternal) of the countries made for a common interest, and
common sentiment, the king, in his message to both houses, calls their
attention to the affairs of the STATES-GENERAL. The House of Lords was
perfectly sound, and entirely impressed with the wisdom and dignity of
the king's proceedings. In answer to the message, which you will observe
was narrowed to a single point (the danger of the States-General), after
the usual professions of zeal for his service, the lords opened
themselves at large. They go far beyond the demands of the message. They
express themselves as follows: "We take this occasion FURTHER to assure
your majesty, that we are sensible of the GREAT AND IMMINENT DANGER TO

"We humbly desire your majesty will be pleased NOT ONLY to made good all
the articles of any FORMER treaties to the States-General, but that you
will enter into a strict league, offensive and defensive, with them, FOR

"And we further desire your majesty, that you will be pleased to enter
into such alliances with the EMPEROR as your majesty shall think fit,
pursuant to the ends of the treaty of 1689; towards all which we assure
your majesty of our hearty and sincere assistance; not doubting, but
whenever your majesty shall be obliged to be engaged for the defence of
will protect your sacred person in so righteous a cause. And that the
unanimity, wealth, and courage, of your subjects will carry your majesty

The House of Commons was more reserved; the late popular disposition was
still in a great degree prevalent in the representative, after it had
been made to change in the constituent body. The principle of the grand
alliance was not directly recognised in the resolution of the Commons,
nor the war announced, though they were well aware the alliance was
formed for the war. However, compelled by the returning sense of the
people, they went so far as to fix the three great immovable pillars of
the safety and greatness of England, as they were then, as they are now,
and as they must ever be to the end of time. They asserted in general
terms the necessity of supporting Holland, of keeping united with our
allies, and maintaining the liberty of Europe; though they restricted
their vote to the succours stipulated by actual treaty. But now they
were fairly embarked, they were obliged to go with the course of the
vessel; and the whole nation, split before into a hundred adverse
factions, with a king at its head evidently declining to his tomb, the
whole nation, lords, commons, and people, proceeded as one body,
informed by one soul. Under the British union, the union of Europe was
consolidated; and it long held together with a degree of cohesion,
firmness, and fidelity, not known before or since in any political
combination of that extent.

Just as the last hand was given to this immense and complicated machine,
the master workman died: but the work was formed on true mechanical
principles, and it was as truly wrought. It went by the impulse it had
received from the first mover. The man was dead; but the grand alliance
survived in which King William lived and reigned. That heartless and
dispirited people, whom Lord Somers had represented about two years
before as dead in energy and operation, continued that war to which it
was supposed they were unequal in mind, and in means, for nearly
thirteen years. For what have I entered into all this detail? To what
purpose have I recalled your view to the end of the last century? It has
been done to show that the British nation was then a great people--to
point out how and by what means they came to be exalted above the vulgar
level, and to take that lead which they assumed among mankind. To
qualify us for that pre-eminence, we had then a high mind and a
constancy unconquerable; we were then inspired with no flashy passions,
but such as were durable as well as warm, such as corresponded to the
great interests we had at stake. This force of character was inspired,
as all such spirit must ever be, from above. Government gave the
impulse. As well may we fancy, that of itself the sea will swell, and
that without winds the billows will insult the adverse shore, as that
the gross mass of the people will be moved, and elevated, and continue
by a steady and permanent direction to bear upon one point, without the
influence of superior authority, or superior mind.

This impulse ought, in my opinion, to have been given in this war; and
it ought to have been continued to it at every instant. It is made, if
ever war was made, to touch all the great springs of action in the human
breast. It ought not to have been a war of apology. The minister had, in
this conflict, wherewithal to glory in success; to be consoled in
adversity; to hold high his principle in all fortunes. If it were not
given him to support the falling edifice, he ought to bury himself under
the ruins of the civilized world. All the art of Greece, and all the
pride and power of eastern monarchs, never heaped upon their ashes so
grand a monument.


This distemper of remedy, grown habitual, relaxes and wears out, by a
vulgar and prostituted use, the spring of that spirit which is to be
exerted on great occasions. It was in the most patient period of Roman
servitude that themes of tyrannicide made the ordinary exercise of boys
at school--cum perimit saevos classis numerosa tyrannos. In the ordinary
state of things, it produces in a country like ours the worst effects,
even on the cause of that liberty which it abuses with the dissoluteness
of an extravagant speculation. Almost all the high-bred republicans of
my time have, after a short space, become the most decided,
thorough-paced courtiers; they soon left the business of a tedious,
moderate, but practical resistance, to those of us whom, in the pride
and intoxication of their theories, they have slighted as not much
better than Tories. Hypocrisy, of course, delights in the most sublime
speculations; for, never intending to go beyond speculation, it costs
nothing to have it magnificent. But even in cases where rather levity
than fraud was to be suspected in these ranting speculations, the issue
has been much the same. These professors, finding their extreme
principles not applicable to cases which call only for a qualified, or,
as I may say, civil, and legal resistance, in such cases employ no
resistance at all. It is with them a war or a revolution, or it is
nothing. Finding their schemes of politics not adapted to the state of
the world in which they live, they often come to think lightly of all
public principle; and are ready, on their part, to abandon for a very
trivial interest what they find of very trivial value. Some indeed are
of more steady and persevering natures; but these are eager politicians
out of parliament, who have little to tempt them to abandon their
favourite projects. They have some change in the Church or State, or
both, constantly in their view. When that is the case, they are always
bad citizens, and perfectly unsure connections. For, considering their
speculative designs as of infinite value, and the actual arrangement of
the state as of no estimation, they are at best indifferent about it.
They see no merit in the good, and no fault in the vicious management of
public affairs; they rather rejoice in the latter, as more propitious to
revolution. They see no merit or demerit in any man, or any action, or
any political principle, any further than as they may forward or retard
their design of change: they therefore take up, one day, the most
violent and stretched prerogative, and another time the wildest
democratic ideas of freedom, and pass from the one to the other without
any sort of regard to cause, to person, or to party.


In matters of state, a constitutional competence to act is in many cases
the smallest part of the question. Without disputing (God forbid I
should dispute) the sole competence of the king and the parliament, each
in its province, to decide on war and peace, I venture to say, no war
CAN be long carried on against the will of the people. This war, in
particular, cannot be carried on unless they are enthusiastically in
favour of it. Acquiescence will not do. There must be zeal. Universal
zeal in such a cause, and at such a time as this is, cannot be looked
for; neither is it necessary. Zeal in the larger part carries the force
of the whole. Without this, no government, certainly not our government,
is capable of a great war. None of the ancient regular governments have
wherewithal to fight abroad with a foreign foe, and at home to overcome
repining, reluctance, and chicane. It must be some portentous thing,
like regicide France, that can exhibit such a prodigy. Yet even she, the
mother of monsters, more prolific than the country of old called Ferax
monstrorum, shows symptoms of being almost effete already; and she will
be so, unless the fallow of a peace comes to recruit her fertility. But
whatever may be represented concerning the meanness of the popular
spirit, I, for one, do not think so desperately of the British nation.
Our minds, as I said, are light, but they are not depraved. We are
dreadfully open to delusion and to dejection; but we are capable of
being animated and undeceived.

It cannot be concealed: we are a divided people. But in divisions, where
a part is to be taken, we are to make a muster of our strength. I have
often endeavoured to compute and to class those who, in any political
view, are to be called the people. Without doing something of this sort
we must proceed absurdly. We should not be much wiser, if we pretended
to very great accuracy in our estimate; but I think, in the calculation
I have made, the error cannot be very material. In England and Scotland,
I compute that those of adult age, not declining in life, of tolerable
leisure for such discussions, and of some means of information, more or
less, and who are above menial dependence (or what virtually is such),
may amount to about four hundred thousand. There is such a thing as a
natural representative of the people. This body is that representative;
and on this body, more than on the legal constituent, the artificial
representative depends. This is the British public; and it is a public
very numerous. The rest, when feeble, are the objects of protection;
when strong, the means of force. They who affect to consider that part
of us in any other light, insult while they cajole us; they do not want
us for counsellors in deliberation, but to list us as soldiers for

Of these four hundred thousand political citizens, I look upon
one-fifth, or about eighty thousand, to be pure Jacobins; utterly
incapable of amendment; objects of eternal vigilance, and, when they
break out, of legal constraint. On these, no reason, no argument, no
example, no venerable authority, can have the slightest influence. They
desire a change; and they will have it if they can. If they cannot have
it by English cabal, they will make no sort of scruple of having it by
the cabal of France, into which already they are virtually incorporated.
It is only their assured and confident expectation of the advantages of
French fraternity, and the approaching blessings of regicide
intercourse, that skins over their mischievous dispositions with a
momentary quiet. This minority is great and formidable. I do not know
whether if I aimed at the total overthrow of a kingdom, I should wish to
be encumbered with a larger body of partisans. They are more easily
disciplined and directed than if the number were greater. These, by
their spirit of intrigue, and by their restless agitating activity, are
of a force far superior to their numbers; and, if times grew the least
critical, have the means of debauching or intimidating many of those who
are now sound, as well as of adding to their force large bodies of the
more passive part of the nation. This minority is numerous enough to
make a mighty cry for peace, or for war, or for any object they are led
vehemently to desire. By passing from place to place with a velocity
incredible, and diversifying their character and description, they are
capable of mimicking the general voice. We must not always judge of the
generality of the opinion by the noise of the acclamation.


We have never put forth half the strength which we have exerted in
ordinary wars. In the fatal battles which have drenched the continent
with blood, and shaken the system of Europe to pieces, we have never
had any considerable army of a magnitude to be compared to the least
of those by which, in former times, we so gloriously asserted our
place as protectors, not oppressors, at the head of the great
commonwealth of Europe. We have never manfully met the danger in
front: and when the enemy, resigning to us our natural dominion of
the ocean, and abandoning the defence of his distant possessions to
the infernal energy of the destroying principles which he had planted
there for the subversion of the neighbouring colonies, drove forth,
by one sweeping law of unprecedented despotism, his armed multitudes
on every side, to overwhelm the countries and states which had for
centuries stood the firm barriers against the ambition of France; we
drew back the arm of our military force, which had never been more
than half raised to oppose him. From that time we have been combating
only with the other arm of our naval power; the right arm of England
I admit; but which struck almost unresisted with blows that could
never reach the heart of the hostile mischief. From that time,
without a single effort to regain those outworks, which ever till now
we so strenuously maintained, as the strong frontier of our own
dignity and safety, no less than the liberties of Europe; with but
one feeble attempt to succour those brave, faithful, and numerous
allies, whom, for the first time since the days of our Edwards and
Henrys, we now have in the bosom of France itself; we have been
intrenching, and fortifying, and garrisoning ourselves at home: we
have been redoubling security on security, to protect ourselves from
invasion, which has now become to us a serious object of alarm and
terror. Alas! the few of us who have protracted life in any measure
near to the extreme limits of our short period, have been condemned
to see strange things; new systems of policy, new principles, and not
only new men, but what might appear a new species of men. I believe
that any person who was of age to take a part in public affairs forty
years ago (if the intermediate space of time were expunged from his
memory) would hardly credit his senses, when he should hear from the
highest authority, that an army of two hundred thousand men was kept
up in this island, and that in the neighbouring island there were at
least fourscore thousand more. But when he had recovered from his
surprise on being told of this army, which has not its parallel, what
must be his astonishment to be told again, that this mighty force was
kept up for the mere purpose of an inert and passive defence, and
that in its far greater part, it was disabled by its constitution and
very essence from defending us against an enemy by any one preventive
stroke, or any one operation of active hostility? What must his
reflections be on learning further, that a fleet of five hundred men
of war, the best appointed, and to the full as ably commanded as any
this country ever had upon the sea, was for the greater part employed
in carrying on the same system of unenterprising defence? what must
be the sentiments and feelings of one who remembers the former energy
of England, when he is given to understand that these two islands,
with their extensive and everywhere vulnerable coast, should be
considered as a garrisoned sea-town; what would such a man, what
would any man think, if the garrison of so strange a fortress should
be such, and so feebly commanded, as never to make a sally; and that,
contrary to all which has hitherto been seen in war, an infinitely
inferior army, with the shattered relics of an almost annihilated
navy, ill found and ill manned, may with safety besiege this superior
garrison, and, without hazarding the life of a man, ruin the place,
merely by the menaces and false appearances of an attack? Indeed,
indeed, my dear friend, I look upon this matter of our defensive
system as much the most important of all considerations at this
moment. It has oppressed me with many anxious thoughts, which, more
than any bodily distemper, have sunk me to the condition in which you
know that I am. Should it please Providence to restore to me even the
late weak remains of my strength, I propose to make this matter the
subject of a particular discussion. I only mean here to argue, that
the mode of conducting the war on our part, be it good or bad, has
prevented even the common havoc of war in our population, and
especially among that class whose duty and privilege of superiority
it is to lead the way amidst the perils and slaughter of the field of


Mere locality does not constitute a body politic. Had Cade and his gang
got possession of London, they would not have been the lord mayor,
aldermen, and common council. The body politic of France existed in the
majesty of its throne, in the dignity of its nobility, in the honour of
its gentry, in the sanctity of its clergy, in the reverence of its
magistracy, in the weight and consideration due to its landed property
in the several bailliages, in the respect due to its moveable substance
represented by the corporations of the kingdom. All these particular
moleculae united form the great mass of what is truly the body politic
in all countries. They are so many deposits and receptacles of justice;
because they can only exist by justice. Nation is a moral essence, not a
geographical arrangement, or a denomination of the nomenclator. France,
though out of her territorial possession, exists; because the sole
possible claimant, I mean the proprietary, and the government to which
the proprietary adheres, exists, and claims. God forbid, that if you
were expelled from your house by ruffians and assassins, that I should
call the material walls, doors, and windows of --, the ancient and
honourable family of --. Am I to transfer to the intruders, who, not
content to turn you out naked to the world, would rob you of your very
name, all the esteem and respect I owe to you? The regicides in France
are not France. France is out of her bounds, but the kingdom is the


Other great states, having been without any regular, certain course
of elevation or decline, we may hope that the British fortune may
fluctuate also; because the public mind, which greatly influences
that fortune, may have its changes. We are therefore never authorised
to abandon our country to its fate, or to act or advise as if it had
no resource. There is no reason to apprehend, because ordinary means
threaten to fail, that no others can spring up. Whilst our heart is
whole, it will find means, or make them. The heart of the citizen is
a perennial spring of energy to the state. Because the pulse seems to
intermit, we must not presume that it will cease instantly to beat.
The public must never be regarded as incurable. I remember in the
beginning of what has lately been called the Seven Years' War, that
an eloquent writer and ingenious speculator, Dr. Brown, upon some
reverses which happened in the beginning of that war, published an
elaborate philosophical discourse to prove that the distinguishing
features of the people of England have been totally changed, and that
a frivolous effeminacy was become the national character. Nothing
could be more popular than that work. It was thought a great
consolation to us, the light people of this country (who were and are
light, but who were not and are not effeminate), that we had found
the causes of our misfortunes in our vices. Pythagoras could not be
more pleased with his leading discovery. But whilst in that splenetic
mood we amused ourselves in a sour, critical speculation, of which we
were ourselves the objects, and in which every man lost his
particular sense of the public disgrace in the epidemic nature of the
distemper; whilst, as in the Alps, goitre ["i" circumflex] kept
goitre ["i" acute] in countenance; whilst we were thus abandoning
ourselves to a direct confession of our inferiority to France, and
whilst many, very many, were ready to act upon a sense of that
inferiority, a few months effected a total change in our variable
minds. We emerged from the gulf of that speculative despondency, and
were buoyed up to the highest point of practical vigour. Never did
the masculine spirit of England display itself with more energy, nor
ever did its genius soar with a prouder pre-eminence over France,
than at the time when frivolity and effeminacy had been at least
tacitly acknowledged as their national character by the good people
of this kingdom.


When I contemplate the scheme on which France is formed, and when I
compare it with these systems, with which it is, and ever must be, in
conflict, those things, which seem as defects in her polity, are the
very things which make me tremble. The states of the Christian world
have grown up to their present magnitude in a great length of time, and
by a great variety of accidents. They have been improved to what we see
them with greater or less degrees of felicity and skill. Not one of them
has been formed upon a regular plan or with any unity of design. As
their constitutions are not systematical, they have not been directed to
any PECULIAR end, eminently distinguished, and superseding every other.
The objects which they embrace are of the greatest possible variety, and
have become in a manner infinite. In all these old countries, the state
has been made to the people, and not the people conformed to the state.
Every state has pursued not only every sort of social advantage, but it
has cultivated the welfare of every individual. His wants, his wishes,
even his tastes, have been consulted. This comprehensive scheme
virtually produced a degree of personal liberty in forms the most
adverse to it. That liberty was found, under monarchies styled absolute,
in a degree unknown to the ancient commonwealths. From hence the powers
of all our modern states meet, in all their movements, with some
obstruction. It is therefore no wonder, that, when these states are to
be considered as machines to operate for some one great end, this
dissipated and balanced force is not easily concentrated, or made to
bear with the whole force of the nation upon one point.

The British state is, without question, that which pursues the greatest
variety of ends, and is the least disposed to sacrifice any one of them
to another, or to the whole. It aims at taking in the entire circle of
human desires, and securing for them their fair enjoyment. Our
legislature has been ever closely connected, in its most efficient part,
with individual feeling, and individual interest. Personal liberty, the
most lively of these feelings and the most important of these interests,
which in other European countries has rather arisen from the system of
manners and the habitudes of life, than from the laws of the state (in
which it flourished more from neglect than attention), in England, has
been a direct object of government.

On this principle England would be the weakest power in the whole
system. Fortunately, however, the great riches of this kingdom arising
from a variety of causes, and the disposition of the people, which is as
great to spend as to accumulate, has easily afforded a disposable
surplus that gives a mighty momentum to the state. This difficulty, with
these advantages to overcome it, has called forth the talents of the
English financiers, who, by the surplus of industry poured out by
prodigality, have outdone everything which has been accomplished in
other nations. The present minister has outdone his predecessors; and,
as a minister of revenue, is far above my power of praise. But still
there are cases in which England feels more than several others (though
they all feel) the perplexity of an immense body of balanced advantages,
and of individual demands, and of some irregularity in the whole mass.

France differs essentially from all those governments, which are formed
without system, which exist by habit, and which are confused with the
multitude, and with the perplexity of their pursuits. What now stands as
government in France is struck out at a heat. The design is wicked,
immoral, impious, oppressive; but it is spirited and daring; it is
systematic; it is simple in its principle; it has unity and consistency
in perfection.


It is undoubtedly the business of ministers very much to consult the
inclinations of the people, but they ought to take great care that they
do not receive that inclination from the few persons who may happen to
approach them. The petty interests of such gentlemen, the low
conceptions of things, their fears arising from the danger to which the
very arduous and critical situation of public affairs may expose their
places; their apprehensions from the hazards to which the discontents of
a few popular men at elections may expose their seats in parliament; all
these causes trouble and confuse the representations which they make to
ministers of the real temper of the nation. If ministers, instead of
following the great indications of the constitution, proceed on such
reports, they will take the whispers of a cabal for the voice of the
people, and the counsels of imprudent timidity for the wisdom of a


It is not for his Holiness we intend this consolatory declaration of
our own weakness, and of the tyrannous temper of his grand enemy.
That prince has known both the one and the other from the beginning.
The artists of the French revolution had given their very first
essays and sketches of robbery and desolation against his
territories, in a far more cruel "murdering piece" than had ever
entered into the imagination of painter or poet. Without ceremony
they tore from his cherishing arms the possessions which he held for
five hundred years, undisturbed by all the ambition of all the
ambitious monarchs who, during that period, have reigned in France.
Is it to him, in whose wrong we have in our late negotiation ceded
his now unhappy countries near the Rhone, lately amongst the most
flourishing (perhaps the most flourishing for their extent) of all
the countries upon earth, that we are to prove the sincerity of our
resolution to make peace with the republic barbarism? That venerable
potentate and pontiff is sunk deep into the vale of years; he is half
disarmed by his peaceful character; his dominions are more than half
disarmed by a peace of two hundred years, defended as they were, not
by forces, but by reverence; yet in all these straits, we see him
display, amidst the recent ruins and the new defacements of his
plundered capital, along with the mild and decorated piety of the
modern, all the spirit and magnanimity of ancient Rome! Does he, who,
though himself unable to defend them, nobly refused to receive
pecuniary compensations for the protection he owed to his people of
Avignon, Carpentras, and the Venaisin;--does he want proofs of our
good disposition to deliver over that people without any security for
them, or any compensation to their sovereign, to this cruel enemy?
Does he want to be satisfied of the sincerity of our humiliation to
France, who has seen his free, fertile, and happy city and state of
Bologna, the cradle of regenerated law, the seat of sciences and of
arts, so hideously metamorphosed, whilst he was crying to Great
Britain for aid, and offering to purchase that aid at any price? Is
it him, who sees that chosen spot of plenty and delight converted
into a Jacobin ferocious republic, dependent on the homicides of
France? Is it him, who, from the miracles of his beneficent industry,
has done a work which defied the power of the Roman emperors, though
with an enthralled world to labour for them; is it him, who has
drained and cultivated the PONTINE MARSHES, that we are to satisfy of
our cordial spirit of conciliation, with those who, in their equity,
are restoring Holland again to the seas, whose maxims poison more
than the exhalations of the most deadly fens, and who turn all the
fertilities of nature and of art into a howling desert? Is it to him,
that we are to demonstrate the good faith of our submissions to the
cannibal republic; to him who is commanded to deliver into their
hands Ancona and Civita Vecchia, seats of commerce, raised by the
wise and liberal labours and expenses of the present and late
pontiffs; ports not more belonging to the Ecclesiastical State than
to the commerce of Great Britain; thus wresting from his hands the
power of the keys of the centre of Italy, as before they had taken
possession of the keys of the northern part, from the hands of the
unhappy king of Sardinia, the natural ally of England? Is it to him
we are to prove our good faith in the peace which we are soliciting
to receive from the hands of his and our robbers, the enemies of all
arts, all sciences, all civilization, and all commerce?


That day was, I fear, the fatal term of LOCAL patriotism. On that day, I
fear, there was an end of that narrow scheme of relations called our
country, with all its pride, its prejudices, and its partial affections.
All the little quiet rivulets, that watered an humble, a contracted, but
not an unfruitful field, are to be lost in the waste expanse, and
boundless, barren ocean of the homicide philanthropy of France. It is no
longer an object of terror, the aggrandizement of a new power, which
teaches as a professor that philanthropy in their chair; whilst it
propagates by arms, and establishes by conquest, the comprehensive
system of universal fraternity. In what light is all this viewed in a
great assembly? The party which takes the lead there has no longer any
apprehensions, except those that arise from not being admitted to the
closest and most confidential connections with the metropolis of that
fraternity. That reigning party no longer touches on its favourite
subject, the display of those horrors, that must attend the existence of
a power, with such dispositions and principles, seated in the heart of
Europe. It is satisfied to find some loose, ambiguous expressions in its
former declarations, which may set it free from its professions and
engagements. It always speaks of peace with the regicides as a great and
an undoubted blessing; and such a blessing as, if obtained, promises, as
much as any human disposition of things can promise, security and
permanence. It holds out nothing at all definite towards this security.
It only seeks, by a restoration, to some of their former owners, of some
fragments of the general wreck of Europe, to find a plausible plea for a
present retreat from an embarrassing position. As to the future, that
party is content to leave it, covered in a night of the most palpable
obscurity. It never once has entered into a particle of detail of what
our own situation, or that of other powers, must be, under the blessings
of the peace we seek. This defect, to my power, I mean to supply; that
if any persons should still continue to think an attempt at foresight is
any part of the duty of a statesman, I may contribute my trifle to the
materials of his speculation.

As to the other party, the minority of to?day, possibly the majority of
to-morrow, small in number but full of talents and every species of
energy, which, upon the avowed ground of being more acceptable to
France, is a candidate for the helm of this kingdom, it has never
changed from the beginning. It has preserved a perennial consistency.
This would be a never-failing source of true glory, if springing from
just and right; but it is truly dreadful if it be an arm of Styx, which
springs out of the profoundest depths of a poisoned soil. The French
maxims were by these gentlemen at no time condemned. I speak of their
language in the most moderate terms. There are many who think that they
have gone much further; that they have always magnified and extolled the
French maxims; that not in the least disgusted or discouraged by the
monstrous evils, which have attended these maxims from the moment of
their adoption both at home and abroad, they still continue to predict,
that in due time they must produce the greatest good to the poor human
race. They obstinately persist in stating those evils as matter of
accident; as things wholly collateral to the system. It is observed,
that this party has never spoken of an ally of Great Britain with the
smallest degree of respect or regard; on the contrary, it has generally
mentioned them under opprobrious appellations, and in such terms of
contempt or execration, as never had been heard before, because no such
would have formerly been permitted in our public assemblies. The moment,
however, that any of those allies quitted this obnoxious connection, the
party has instantly passed an act of indemnity and oblivion in their
favour. After this, no sort of censure on their conduct; no imputation
on their character! From that moment their pardon was sealed in a
reverential and mysterious silence. With the gentlemen of this minority,
there is no ally, from one end of Europe to the other, with whom we
ought not to be ashamed to act. The whole college of the states of
Europe is no better than a gang of tyrants. With them all our connexions
were broken off at once. We ought to have cultivated France, and France
alone, from the moment of her revolution. On that happy change, all our
dread of that nation as a power was to cease. She became in an instant
dear to our affections, and one with our interests. All other nations we
ought to have commanded not to trouble her sacred throes, whilst in
labour to bring into a happy birth her abundant litter of constitutions.


There has not been in this century any foreign peace or war, in its
origin, the fruit of popular desire; except the war that was made with
Spain in 1739. Sir Robert Walpole was forced into the war by the people,
who were inflamed to this measure by the most leading politicians, by
the first orators, and the greatest poets, of the time. For that war,
Pope sung his dying notes. For that war, Johnson, in more energetic
strains, employed the voice of his early genius. For that war, Glover
distinguished himself in the way in which his muse was the most natural
and happy. The crowd readily followed the politicians in the cry for a
war, which threatened little bloodshed, and which promised victories
that were attended with something more solid than glory. A war with
Spain was a war of plunder. In the present conflict with regicide, Mr.
Pitt has not hitherto had, nor will, perhaps, for a few days have, many
prizes to hold out in the lottery of war, to attempt the lower part of
our character. He can only maintain it by an appeal to the higher; and
to those, in whom that higher part is the most predominant, he must look
the most for his support. Whilst he holds out no inducements to the
wise, nor bribes to the avaricious, he may be forced by a vulgar cry
into a peace ten times more ruinous than the most disastrous war. The
weaker he is in the fund of motives which apply to our avarice, to our
laziness, and to our lassitude, if he means to carry the war to any end
at all, the stronger he ought to be in his addresses to our magnanimity
and to our reason.

In stating that Walpole was driven by a popular clamour into a measure
not to be justified, I do not mean wholly to excuse his conduct. My time
of observation did not exactly coincide with that event: but I read much
of the controversies then carried on. Several years after the contests
of parties had ceased, the people were amused, and in a degree warmed,
with them. The events of that era seemed then of magnitude, which the
revolutions of our time have reduced to parochial importance; and the
debates, which then shook the nation, now appear of no higher moment
than a discussion in a vestry. When I was very young, a general fashion
told me I was to admire some of the writings against that minister; a
little more maturity taught me as much to despise them. I observed one
fault in his general proceeding. He never manfully put forward the
entire strength of his cause. He temporised, he managed, and, adopting
very nearly the sentiments of his adversaries, he opposed their
inferences. This, for a political commander, is the choice of a weak
post. His adversaries had the better of the argument, as he handled it,
not as the reason and justice of his cause enabled him to manage it. I
say this, after having seen, and with some care examined, the original
documents concerning certain important transactions of those times. They
perfectly satisfied me of the extreme injustice of that war, and of the
falsehood of the colours which, to his own ruin, and guided by a
mistaken policy, he suffered to be daubed over that measure. Some years
after, it was my fortune to converse with many of the principal actors
against that minister, and with those who principally excited that
clamour. None of them, no not one, did in the least defend the measure,
or attempt to justify their conduct. They condemned it as freely as they
would have done in commenting upon any proceeding in history, in which
they were totally unconcerned. Thus it will be. They who stir up the
people to improper desires, whether of peace or war, will be condemned
by themselves. They who weakly yield to them will be condemned by


How a question of peace can be discussed without having them in view, I
cannot imagine. If you or others see a way out of these difficulties, I
am happy. I see, indeed, a fund from whence equivalents will be
proposed. I see it, but I cannot just now touch it. It is a question of
high moment. It opens another Iliad of woes to Europe.

Such is the time proposed for making A COMMON POLITICAL PEACE; to which
no one circumstance is propitious. As to the grand principle of the
peace, it is left, as if by common consent, wholly out of the question.

Viewing things in this light, I have frequently sunk into a degree of
despondency and dejection hardly to be described; yet out of the
profoundest depths of this despair, an impulse, which I have in vain
endeavoured to resist, has urged me to raise one feeble cry against this
unfortunate coalition which is formed at home, in order to make a
coalition with France, subversive of the whole ancient order of the
world. No disaster of war, no calamity of season, could ever strike me
with half the horror which I felt from what is introduced to us by this
junction of parties, under the soothing name of peace. We are apt to
speak of a low and pusillanimous spirit as the ordinary cause by which
dubious wars terminated in humiliating treaties. It is here the direct
contrary. I am perfectly astonished at the boldness of character, at the
intrepidity of mind, the firmness of nerve, in those who are able with
deliberation to face the perils of Jacobin fraternity.

This fraternity is indeed so terrible in its nature, and in its manifest
consequences, that there is no way of quieting our apprehensions about
it, but by totally putting it out of sight, by substituting for it,
through a sort of periphrasis, something of an ambiguous quality, and
describing such a connection under the terms of "THE USUAL RELATIONS OF
PEACE AND AMITY." By this means the proposed fraternity is hustled in
the crowd of those treaties, which imply no change in the public law of
Europe, and which do not upon system affect the interior condition of
nations. It is confounded with those conventions in which matters of
dispute among sovereign powers are compromised, by the taking off a duty
more or less, by the surrender of a frontier town, or a disputed
district, on the one side or the other; by pactions in which the
pretensions of families are settled (as by a conveyancer, making family
substitutions and successions), without any alterations in the laws,
manners, religion, privileges, and customs, of the cities, or
territories, which are the subject of such arrangements.

All this body of old conventions, composing the vast and voluminous
collection called the corps diplomatique, forms the code or statute law,
as the methodised reasonings of the great publicists and jurists form
the digest and jurisprudence of the Christian world. In these treasures
are to be found the USUAL relations of peace and amity in civilized
Europe; and there the relations of ancient France were to be found
amongst the rest.

The present system in France is not the ancient France. It is not the
ancient France with ordinary ambition and ordinary means. It is not a
new power of an old kind. It is a new power of a new species. When such
a questionable shape is to be admitted for the first time into the
brotherhood of Christendom, it is not a mere matter of idle curiosity to
consider how far it is in its nature alliable with the rest, or whether
"the relations of peace and amity" with this new state are likely to be
of the same nature with the USUAL relations of the states of Europe.


It is never, therefore, wise to quarrel with the interested views of
men, whilst they are combined with the public interest and promote it:
it is our business to tie the knot, if possible, closer. Resources that
are derived from extraordinary virtues, as such virtues are rare, so
they must be unproductive. It is a good thing for a monied man to pledge
his property on the welfare of his country; he shows that he places his
treasure where his heart is; and, revolving in this circle, we know that
"wherever a man's treasure is, there his heart will be also." For these
reasons, and on these principles, I have been sorry to see the attempts
which have been made, with more good meaning than foresight and
consideration, towards raising the annual interest of this loan by
private contributions. Wherever a regular revenue is established, there
voluntary contribution can answer no purpose, but to disorder and
disturb it in its course. To recur to such aids is, for so much, to
dissolve the community, and to return to a state of unconnected nature.
And even if such a supply should be productive, in a degree commensurate
to its object, it must also be productive of much vexation, and much
oppression. Either the citizens, by the proposed duties, pay their
proportion according to some rate made by public authority, or they do
not. If the law be well made, and the contributions founded on just
proportions, everything superadded by something that is not as regular
as law, and as uniform in its operation, will become more or less out of
proportion. If, on the contrary, the law be not made upon proper
calculation, it is a disgrace to the public wisdom, which fails in skill
to assess the citizen in just measure, and according to his means. But
the hand of authority is not always the most heavy hand. It is obvious,
that men may be oppressed by many ways, besides those which take their
course from the supreme power of the state. Suppose the payment to be
wholly discretionary. Whatever has its origin in caprice, is sure not to
improve in its progress, nor to end in reason. It is impossible for each
private individual to have any measure conformable to the particular
condition of each of his fellow-citizens, or to the general exigencies
of his country. 'Tis a random shot at best.

When men proceed in this irregular mode, the first contributor is apt to
grow peevish with his neighbours. He is but too well disposed to measure
their means by his own envy, and not by the real state of their
fortunes, which he can rarely know, and which it may in them be an act
of the grossest imprudence to reveal. Hence the odium and lassitude,
with which people will look upon a provision for the public, which is
bought by discord at the expense of social quiet. Hence the bitter
heart-burnings, and the war of tongues, which is so often the prelude to
other wars. Nor is it every contribution, called voluntary, which is
according to the free will of the giver. A false shame, or a false
glory, against his feelings and his judgment, may tax an individual to
the detriment of his family, and in wrong of his creditors. A pretence
of public spirit may disable him from the performance of his private
duties. It may disable him even from paying the legitimate contributions
which he is to furnish according to the prescript of the law; but what
is the most dangerous of all is, that malignant disposition to which
this mode of contribution evidently tends, and which at length leaves
the comparatively indigent to judge of the wealth, and to prescribe to
the opulent, or those whom they conceive to be such, the use they are to
make of their fortunes. From thence it is but one step to the subversion
of all property.


The author does not confine the benefit of the regicide lesson to
kings alone. He has a diffusive bounty. Nobles, and men of property,
will likewise be greatly reformed. They too will be led to a review
of their social situation and duties; "and will reflect, that their
large allotment of worldly advantages is for the aid and benefit of
the whole." Is it then from the fate of Juignie, archbishop of Paris,
or of the cardinal de Rochefoucault, and of so many others, who gave
their fortunes, and, I may say, their very beings, to the poor, that
the rich are to learn, that their "fortunes are for the aid and
benefit of the whole?" I say nothing of the liberal persons of great
rank and property, lay and ecclesiastic, men and women, to whom we
have had the honour and happiness of affording an asylum,--I pass by
these, lest I should never have done, or lest I should omit some as
deserving as any I might mention. Why will the author then suppose,
that the nobles and men of property in France have been banished,
confiscated, and murdered, on account of the savageness and ferocity
of their character, and their being tainted with vices beyond those
of the same order and description in other countries? No judge of a
revolutionary tribunal, with his hands dipped in their blood, and his
maw gorged with their property, has yet dared to assert what this
author has been pleased, by way of a moral lesson, to insinuate.

Their nobility, and their men of property, in a mass, had the very same
virtues and the very same vices, and in the very same proportions, with
the same description of men in this and in other nations. I must do
justice to suffering honour, generosity, and integrity. I do not know,
that any time, or any country, has furnished more splendid examples of
every virtue, domestic and public. I do not enter into the councils of
Providence: but, humanly speaking, many of these nobles and men of
property, from whose disastrous fate we are, it seems, to learn a
general softening of character, and a revision of our social situations
and duties, appear to me full as little deserving of that fate, as the
author, whoever he is, can be. Many of them, I am sure, were such, as I
should be proud indeed to be able to compare myself with, in knowledge,
in integrity, and in every other virtue. My feeble nature might shrink,
though theirs did not, from the proof; but my reason and my ambition
tell me, that it would be a good bargain to purchase their merits with
their fate.

For which of his vices did that great magistrate, D'Espremenil, lose his
fortune and his head? What were the abominations of Malesherbes, that
other excellent magistrate, whose sixty years of uniform virtue was
acknowledged, in the very act of his murder, by the judicial butchers,
who condemned him? On account of what misdemeanors was he robbed of his
property, and slaughtered with two generations of his offspring; and the
remains of the third race, with a refinement of cruelty, and lest they
should appear to reclaim the property forfeited by the virtues of their
ancestor, confounded in an hospital with the thousands of those unhappy
foundling infants, who are abandoned, without relation, and without
name, by the wretchedness or by the profligacy of their parents?

Is the fate of the queen of France to produce this softening of
character? Was she a person so very ferocious and cruel as, by the
example of her death, to frighten us into common humanity? Is there no
way to teach the emperor a softening of character, and a review of his
social situation and duty, but his consent, by an infamous accord with
regicide, to drive a second coach with the Austrian arms through the
streets of Paris, along which, after a series of preparatory horrors,
exceeding the atrocities of the bloody execution itself, the glory of
the imperial race had been carried to an ignominious death? Is this a
lesson of MODERATION to a descendant of Maria Theresa, drawn from the
fate of the daughter of that incomparable woman and sovereign? If he
learns this lesson from such an object, and from such teachers, the man
may remain, but the king is deposed. If he does not carry quite another
memory of that transaction in the inmost recesses of his heart, he is
unworthy to reign; he is unworthy to live. In the chronicle of disgrace
he will have but this short tale told of him, "he was the first emperor
of his house that embraced a regicide: he was the last that wore the
imperial purple."--Far am I from thinking so ill of this august
sovereign, who is at the head of the monarchies of Europe, and who is
the trustee of their dignities and his own. What ferocity of character
drew on the fate of Elizabeth, the sister of King Louis the Sixteenth?
For which of the vices of that pattern of benevolence, of piety, and of
all the virtues, did they put her to death? For which of her vices did
they put to death the mildest of all human creatures, the duchess of
Biron? What were the crimes of those crowds of matrons and virgins of
condition, whom they massacred, with their juries of blood, in prisons
and on scaffolds? What were the enormities of the infant king, whom they
caused, by lingering tortures, to perish in their dungeon, and whom, if
at last they despatched by poison, it was in that detestable crime the
only act of mercy they have ever shown?

What softening of character is to be had, what review of their social
situations and duties is to be taught, by these examples, to kings, to
nobles, to men of property, to women, and to infants? The royal family
perished, because it was royal. The nobles perished, because they were
noble. The men, women, and children, who had property, because they had
property to be robbed of. The priests were punished, after they had been
robbed of their all, not for their vices, but for their virtues and
their piety, which made them an honour to their sacred profession, and
to that nature, of which we ought to be proud, since they belong to it.
My Lord, nothing can be learned from such examples, except the danger of
being kings, queens, nobles, priests, and children, to be butchered on
account of their inheritance. These are things, at which not vice, not
crime, not folly, but wisdom, goodness, learning, justice, probity,
beneficence, stand aghast. By these examples our reason and our moral
sense are not enlightened, but confounded; and there is no refuge for
astonished and affrighted virtue, but being annihilated in humility and
submission, sinking into a silent adoration of the inscrutable
dispensations of Providence, and flying, with trembling wings, from this
world of daring crimes, and feeble, pusillanimous, half-bred, bastard
justice, to the asylum of another order of things, in an unknown form,
but in a better life.

Whatever the politician or preacher of September or of October may think
of the matter, it is a most comfortless, disheartening, desolating
example. Dreadful is the example of ruined innocence and virtue, and the
completest triumph of the completest villainy, that ever vexed and
disgraced mankind! The example is ruinous in every point of view,
religious, moral, civil, political. It establishes that dreadful maxim
of Machiavel, that in great affairs men are not to be wicked by halves.
This maxim is not made for a middle sort of beings, who, because they
cannot be angels, ought to thwart their ambition, and not endeavour to
become infernal spirits. It is too well exemplified in the present time,
where the faults and errors of humanity, checked by the imperfect
timorous virtues, have been overpowered by those who have stopped at no
crime. It is a dreadful part of the example, that infernal malevolence
has had pious apologists, who read their lectures on frailties in favour
of crimes; who abandon the weak, and court the friendship of the wicked.
To root out these maxims, and the examples that support them, is a wise
object of years of war. This is that war. This is that moral war. It was
said by old Trivulzio, that the battle of Marignan was the battle of the
giants, that all the rest of the many he had seen were those of the
cranes and pigmies. This is true of the objects, at least, of the
contest. For the greater part of those, which we have hitherto contended
for, in comparison, were the toys of children.

The October politician is so full of charity and good nature, that he
supposes, that these very robbers and murderers themselves are in a
course of melioration; on what ground I cannot conceive, except on the
long practice of every crime, and by its complete success. He is an
Origenist, and believes in the conversion of the devil. All that runs in
the place of blood in his veins is nothing but the milk of human
kindness. He is as soft as a curd, though, as a politician, he might be
supposed to be made of sterner stuff. He supposes (to use his own
expression) "that the salutary truths, which he inculcates, are making
their way into their bosoms." Their bosom is a rock of granite, on which
falsehood has long since built her stronghold. Poor truth has had a hard
work of it with her little pickaxe. Nothing but gunpowder will do. As a
proof, however, of the progress of this sap of Truth, he gives us a
confession they had made not long before he wrote. "Their fraternity"
(as was lately stated by themselves in a solemn report) "has been the
brotherhood of Cain and Abel, and they have organized nothing but
Bankruptcy and Famine." A very honest confession, truly; and much in the
spirit of their oracle, Rousseau. Yet, what is still more marvellous
than the confession, this is the very fraternity to which our author
gives us such an obliging invitation to accede. There is, indeed, a
vacancy in the fraternal corps; a brother and a partner is wanted. If we
please, we may fill up the place of the butchered Abel; and, whilst we
wait the destiny of the departed brother, we may enjoy the advantages of
the partnership, by entering, without delay, into a shop of ready-made
bankruptcy and famine. These are the douceurs, by which we are invited
to regicide fraternity and friendship. But still our author considers
the confession as a proof, that "truth is making its way into their
bosoms." No! It is not making its way into their bosoms. It has forced
its way into their mouths! The evil spirit, by which they are possessed,
though essentially a liar, is forced, by the tortures of conscience, to
confess the truth: to confess enough for their condemnation, but not for
their amendment. Shakspeare very aptly expresses this kind of
confession, devoid of repentance, from the mouth of a usurper, a
murderer, and a regicide--

"We are ourselves compelled,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence."

Whence is their amendment? Why, the author writes, that, on their
murderous insurrectionary system, their own lives are not sure for an
hour; nor has their power a greater stability. True. They are convinced
of it; and accordingly the wretches have done all they can to preserve
their lives, and to secure their power; but not one step have they taken
to amend the one, or to make a more just use of the other.


There is one topic upon which I hope I shall be excused in going a
little beyond my design. The factions, now so busy amongst us, in order
to divest men of all love for their country, and to remove from their
minds all duty with regard to the state, endeavour to propagate an
opinion, that the PEOPLE, in forming their commonwealth, have by no
means parted with their power over it. This is an impregnable citadel,
to which these gentlemen retreat whenever they are pushed by the battery
of laws and usages, and positive conventions. Indeed, it is such and of
so great force, that all they have done, in defending their outworks, is
so much time and labour thrown away. Discuss any of their schemes--their
answer is--It is the act of the PEOPLE, and that is sufficient. Are we
to deny to a MAJORITY of the people the right of altering even the whole
frame of their society, if such should be their pleasure? They may
change it, say they, from a monarchy to a republic to?day, and to-morrow
back again from a republic to a monarchy, and so backward and forward as
often as they like. They are masters of the commonwealth; because in
substance they are themselves the commonwealth. The French revolution,
say they, was the act of the majority of the people; and if the majority
of any other people, the people of England for instance, wish to make
the same change, they have the same right. Just the same, undoubtedly.
That is, none at all. Neither the few nor the many have a right to act
merely by their will, in any matter connected with duty, trust,
engagement, or obligation. The constitution of a country being once
settled upon some compact, tacit or expressed, there is no power
existing of force to alter it, without the breach of the covenant, or
the consent of all the parties. Such is the nature of a contract. And
the votes of a majority of the people, whatever their infamous
flatterers may teach in order to corrupt their minds, cannot alter the
moral any more than they can alter the physical essence of things. The
people are not to be taught to think lightly of their engagements to
their governors; else they teach governors to think lightly of their
engagements towards them. In that kind of game in the end the people are
sure to be losers. To flatter them into a contempt of faith, truth, and
justice, is to ruin them; for in these virtues consist their whole
safety. To flatter any man, or any part of mankind, in any description,
by asserting, that in engagements he or they are free whilst any other
human creature is bound, is ultimately to vest the rule of morality in
the pleasure of those who ought to be rigidly submitted to it; to
subject the sovereign reason of the world to the caprices of weak and
giddy men.

But, as no one of us men can dispense with public or private faith, or
with any other tie of moral obligation, so neither can any number of us.
The number engaged in crimes, instead of turning them into laudable
acts, only augments the quantity and intensity of the guilt. I am well
aware that men love to hear of their power, but have an extreme
disrelish to be told of their duty. This is of course, because every
duty is a limitation of some power. Indeed arbitrary power is so much to
the depraved taste of the vulgar, of the vulgar of every description,
that almost all the dissensions, which lacerate the commonwealth, are
not concerning the manner in which it is to be exercised, but concerning
the hands in which it is to be placed. Somewhere they are resolved to
have it. Whether they desire it to be vested in the many or the few,
depends with most men upon the chance which they imagine they themselves
may have of partaking in the exercise of that arbitrary sway, in the one
mode or in the other.

It is not necessary to teach men to thirst after power. But it is very
expedient that by moral instruction, they should be taught, and by their
civil constitutions they should be compelled, to put many restrictions
upon the immoderate exercise of it, and the inordinate desire. The best
method of obtaining these two great points forms the important, but at
the same time the difficult, problem to the true statesman. He thinks of
the place in which political power is to be lodged, with no other
attention, than as it may render the more or the less practicable, its
salutary restraint, and its prudent direction. For this reason no
legislator, at any period of the world, has willingly placed the seat of
active power in the hands of the multitude: because there it admits of
no control no regulation, no steady direction whatsoever. The people are
the natural control on authority; but to exercise and to control
together is contradictory and impossible.

As the exorbitant exercise of power cannot, under popular sway, be
effectually restrained, the other great object of political arrangement,
the means of abating an excessive desire of it, is in such a state still
worse provided for. The democratic commonwealth is the foodful nurse of
ambition. Under the other forms it meets with many restraints. Whenever,
in states which have had a democratic basis, the legislators have
endeavoured to put restraints upon ambition, their methods were as
violent, as in the end they were ineffectual: as violent indeed as any
the most jealous despotism could invent. The ostracism could not very
long save itself, and much less the state which it was meant to guard,
from the attempts of ambition, one of the natural, inbred, incurable
distempers of a powerful democracy.


Great lights they say are lately obtained in the world; and Mr. Burke,
instead of shrouding himself in exploded ignorance, ought to have taken
advantage of the blaze of illumination which has been spread about him.
It may be so. The enthusiasts of this time, it seems, like their
predecessors in another faction of fanaticism, deal in lights.--Hudibras
pleasantly says to them, they

"Have LIGHTS, where better eyes are blind,
As pigs are said to see the wind."

The author of the Reflections has HEARD a great deal concerning the
modern lights; but he has not yet had the good fortune to SEE much of
them. He has read more than he can justify to anything but the spirit of
curiosity, of the works of these illuminators of the world. He has
learned nothing from the far greater number of them, than a full
certainty of their shallowness, levity, pride, petulance, presumption,
and ignorance. Where the old authors whom he has read, and the old men
whom he has conversed with, have left him in the dark, he is in the dark
still. If others, however, have obtained any of this extraordinary
light, they will use it to guide them in their researches and their
conduct. I have only to wish, that the nation may be as happy and as
prosperous under the influence of the new light, as it has been in the
sober shade of the old obscurity.


In the same debate, Mr. Burke was represented by Mr. Fox as arguing in a
manner which implied that the British constitution could not be
defended, but by abusing all republics ancient and modern. He said
nothing to give the least ground for such a censure. He never abused all
republics. He has never professed himself a friend or an enemy to
republics or to monarchies in the abstract. He thought that the
circumstances and habits of every country, which it is always perilous
and productive of the greatest calamities to force, are to decide upon
the form of its government. There is nothing in his nature, his temper,
or his faculties, which should make him an enemy to any republic modern
or ancient. Far from it. He has studied the form and spirit of republics
very early in life; he has studied them with great attention; and with a
mind undisturbed by affection or prejudice. He is indeed convinced that
the science of government would be poorly cultivated without that study.
But the result in his mind from that investigation has been, and is,
that neither England nor France, without infinite detriment to them, as
well in the event as in the experiment, could be brought into a
republican form; but that everything republican which can be introduced
with safety into either of them, must be built upon a monarchy; built
upon a real, not a nominal, monarchy, AS ITS ESSENTIAL BASIS; that all
such institutions, whether aristocratic or democratic, must originate
from the crown, and in all their proceedings must refer to it; that by
the energy of that main spring alone those republican parts must be set
in action, and from thence must derive their whole legal effect (as
amongst us they actually do), or the whole will fall into confusion.
These republican members have no other point but the crown in which they
can possibly unite.

This is the opinion expressed in Mr. Burke's book. He has never varied
in that opinion since he came to years of discretion. But surely, if it
any time of his life he had entertained other notions (which however he
has never held or professed to hold), the horrible calamities brought
upon a great people, by the wild attempt to force their country into a
republic, might be more than sufficient to undeceive his understanding,
and to free it for ever from such destructive fancies. He is certain,
that many, even in France, have been made sick of their theories by
their very success in realizing them.


He is a real king, and not an executive officer. If he will not trouble
himself with contemptible details, nor wish to degrade himself by
becoming a party in little squabbles, I am far from sure, that a king of
Great Britain, in whatever concerns him as a king, or indeed as a
rational man, who combines his public interest with his personal
satisfaction, does not possess a more real, solid, extensive power, than
the king of France was possessed of before this miserable revolution.
The direct power of the king of England is considerable. His indirect,
and far more certain power, is great indeed. He stands in need of
nothing towards dignity; of nothing towards splendour; of nothing
towards authority; of nothing at all towards consideration abroad. When
was it that a king of England wanted wherewithal to make him respected,
courted, or perhaps even feared, in every state of Europe?


The PHYSIOGNOMY has a considerable share in beauty, especially in
that of our own species. The manners give a certain determination to
the countenance; which, being observed to correspond pretty regularly
with them, is capable of joining the effect of certain agreeable
qualities of the mind to those of the body. So that to form a
finished human beauty, and to give it its full influence, the face
must be expressive of such gentle and amiable qualities, as
correspond with the softness, smoothness, and delicacy of the outward


I have hitherto purposely omitted to speak of the EYE, which has so
great a share in the beauty of the animal creation, as it did not fall
so easily under the foregoing heads, though in fact it is reducible to
the same principles. I think then, that the beauty of the eye consists,
first, in its CLEARNESS; what COLOURED eye shall please most, depends a
good deal on particular fancies; but none are pleased with an eye whose
water (to use that term) is dull and muddy. We are pleased with the eye
in this view, on the principle upon which we like diamonds, clear water,
glass, and such-like transparent substances. Secondly, the motion of the
eye contributes to its beauty, by continually shifting its direction;
but a slow and languid motion is more beautiful than a brisk one; the
latter is enlivening; the former lovely. Thirdly, with regard to the
union of the eye with the neighbouring parts, it is to hold the same
rule that is given of other beautiful ones; it is not to make a strong
deviation from the line of the neighbouring parts; nor to verge into any
exact geometrical figure. Besides all this, the eye affects, as it is
expressive of some qualities of the mind, and its principal power
generally arises from this; so that what we have just said of the
physiognomy is applicable here.


According to their invariable course, the framers of your constitution
have begun with the outer abolition of the parliaments. These venerable
bodies, like the rest of the old government, stood in need of reform,
even though there should be no change made in the monarchy. They
required several more alterations to adapt them to the system of a free
constitution. But they had particulars in their constitution, and those
not a few, which deserved approbation from the wise. They possessed one
fundamental excellence,--they were independent. The most doubtful
circumstance attendant on their office, that of its being vendible,
contributed however to this independency of character. They held for
life. Indeed they may be said to have held by inheritance. Appointed by
the monarch, they were considered as nearly out of his power. The most
determined exertions of that authority against them only showed their
radical independence. They composed permanent bodies politic,
constituted to resist arbitrary innovation; and from that corporate
constitution, and from most of their forms, they were well calculated to
afford both certainty and stability to the laws. They had been a safe
asylum to secure these laws, in all the revolutions of humour and
opinion. They had saved that sacred deposit of the country during the
reigns of arbitrary princes, and the struggles of arbitrary factions.
They kept alive the memory and record of the constitution. They were the
great security to private property; which might be said (when personal
liberty had no existence) to be, in fact, as well guarded in France as
in any other country. Whatever is supreme in a state, ought to have, as
much as possible, its judicial authority so constituted as not only not
to depend upon it, but in some sort to balance it. It ought to give a
security to its justice against its power. It ought to make its
judicature, as it were, something exterior to the state. These
parliaments had furnished, not the best certainly, but some considerable
corrective to the excesses and vices of the monarchy. Such an
independent judicature was ten times more necessary when a democracy
became the absolute power of the country. In that constitution,
elective, temporary, local judges, such as you have contrived,
exercising their dependent functions in a narrow society, must be the
worst of all tribunals. In them it will be vain to look for any
appearance of justice towards strangers, towards the obnoxious rich,
towards the minority of routed parties, towards all those who in the
election have supported unsuccessful candidates. It will be impossible
to keep the new tribunals clear of the worst spirit of faction. All
contrivances by ballot we know experimentally to be vain and childish to
prevent a discovery of inclinations. Where they may the best answer the
purposes of concealment, they answer to produce suspicion; and this is a
still more mischievous cause of partiality.

If the parliaments had been preserved, instead of being dissolved at so
ruinous a change to the nation, they might have served in this new
commonwealth, perhaps not precisely the same (I do not mean an exact
parallel), but nearly the same, purposes as the court and senate of
Areopagus did in Athens; that is, as one of the balances and correctives
to the evils of a light and unjust democracy. Every one knows that this
tribunal was the great stay of that state; every one knows with what a
care it was upheld, and with what a religious awe it was consecrated.
The parliaments were not wholly free from faction, I admit; but this
evil was exterior and accidental, and not so much the vice of their
constitution itself, as it must be in your new contrivance of sexennial
elective judicatories. Several English commend the abolition of the old
tribunals, as supposing that they determined everything by bribery and
corruption. But they have stood the test of monarchic and republican
scrutiny. The court was well disposed to prove corruption on those
bodies when they were dissolved in 1771.--Those who have again dissolved
them would have done the same if they could--but both inquisitions
having failed, I conclude, that gross pecuniary corruption must have
been rather rare amongst them.

It would have been prudent, along with the parliaments, to preserve
their ancient power of registering, and of remonstrating at least, upon
all the decrees of the National Assembly, as they did upon those which
passed in the time of the monarchy. It would be a means of squaring the
occasional decrees of a democracy to some principles of general
jurisprudence. The vice of the ancient democracies, and one cause of
their ruin, was, that they ruled, as you do, by occasional
decrees,--psephismata. This practice soon broke in upon the tenor and
consistency of the laws; it abated the respect of the people towards
them; and totally destroyed them in the end.

Your vesting the power of remonstrance, which, in the time of the
monarchy, existed in the parliament of Paris, in your principal
executive officer, whom, in spite of common sense, you persevere in
calling king, is the height of absurdity. You ought never to suffer
remonstrance from him who is to execute. This is to understand neither
counsel nor execution; neither authority nor obedience. The person whom
you call king, ought not to have this power, or he ought to have more.


Cromwell, when he attempted to legalize his power, and to settle his
conquered country in a state of order, did not look for dispensers of
justice in the instruments of his usurpation. Quite the contrary. He
sought out, with great solicitude and selection, and even from the party
most opposite to his designs, men of weight and decorum of character;
men unstained with the violence of the times, and with hands not fouled
with confiscation and sacrilege: for he chose an HALE for his chief
justice, though he absolutely refused to take his civic oaths, or to
make any acknowledgment whatsoever of the legality of his government.
Cromwell told this great lawyer, that since he did not approve his
title, all he required of him was, to administer, in a manner agreeable
to his pure sentiments and unspotted character, that justice without
which human society cannot subsist: that it was not his particular
government, but civil order itself, which, as a judge, he wished him to
support. Cromwell knew how to separate the institutions expedient to his
usurpation from the administration of the public justice of his country.
For Cromwell was a man in whom ambition had not wholly suppressed, but
only suspended, the sentiments of religion, and the love (as far as it
could consist with his designs) of fair and honourable reputation.
Accordingly, we are indebted to this act of his for the preservation of
our laws, which some senseless assertors of the rights of men were then
on the point of entirely erasing, as relics of feudality and barbarism.
Besides, he gave in the appointment of that man, to that age, and to all
posterity, the most brilliant example of sincere and fervent piety,
exact justice, and profound jurisprudence. (See Burnet's Life of Hale.)
But these are not the things in which your philosophic usurpers choose
to follow Cromwell.

One would think, that after an honest and necessary revolution (if they
had a mind that theirs should pass for such) your masters would have
imitated the virtuous policy of those who have been at the head of
revolutions of that glorious character. Burnet tells us, that nothing
tended to reconcile the English nation to the government of King William
so much as the care he took to fill the vacant bishoprics with men who
had attracted the public esteem by their learning, eloquence, and piety,
and, above all, by their known moderation in the state. With you, in
your purifying revolution, whom have you chosen to regulate the church?
Mr. Mirabeau is a fine speaker--and a fine writer,--and a fine--a very
fine man;--but really nothing gave more surprise to everybody here, than
to find him the supreme head of your ecclesiastical affairs. The rest is
of course. Your Assembly addresses a manifesto to France, in which they
tell the people, with an insulting irony, that they have brought the
church to its primitive condition. In one respect their declaration is
undoubtedly true; for they have brought it to a state of poverty and
persecution. What can be hoped for after this? Have not men (if they
deserve the name), under this new hope and head of the church, been made
bishops for no other merit than having acted as instruments of atheists;
for no other merit than having thrown the children's bread to dogs; and
in order to gorge the whole gang of usurers, pedlars, and itinerant
Jew-discounters at the corners of streets, starved the poor of their
Christian flocks, and their own brother pastors? Have not such men been
made bishops to administer in temples, in which (if the patriotic
donations have not already stripped them of their vessels) the
churchwardens ought to take security for the altar-plate, and not so
much as to trust the chalice in their sacrilegious hands, so long as
Jews have assignats on ecclesiastic plunder, to exchange for the silver
stolen from churches?


An air of robustness and strength is very prejudicial to beauty. An
appearance of DELICACY, and even of fragility, is almost essential to
it. Whoever examines the vegetable or animal creation will find this
observation to be founded in nature. It is not the oak, the ash, or
the elm, or any of the robust trees of the forest, which we consider
as beautiful; they are awful and majestic; their inspire a sort of
reverence. It is the delicate myrtle, it is the orange, it is the
almond, it is the jasmine, it is the vine, which we look on as
vegetable beauties. It is the flowery species, so remarkable for its
weakness and momentary duration, that gives us the liveliest idea of
beauty and elegance. Among animals, the greyhound is more beautiful
than the mastiff; and the delicacy of a gennet, a barb, or an Arabian
horse, is much more amiable than the strength and stability of some
horses of war or carriage. I need here say little of the fair sex,
where I believe the point will be easily allowed me. The beauty of
women is considerably owing to their weakness or delicacy, and is
even enhanced by their timidity, a quality of mind analogous to it. I
would not here be understood to say, that weakness betraying very bad
health has any share in beauty; but the ill effect of this is not
because it is weakness, but because the ill state of health, which
produces such weakness, alters the other conditions of beauty; the
parts in such a case collapse; the bright colour,--the lumen
purpureum juventae, is gone; and the fine variation is lost in
wrinkles, sudden breaks, and right lines.


As to the operation of the first (the confiscation and paper currency)
merely as a cement, I cannot deny that these, the one depending on the
other, may for some time compose some sort of cement, if their madness
and folly in the management, and in the tempering of the parts together,
does not produce a repulsion in the very outset. But allowing to the
scheme some coherence and some duration, it appears to me, that if,
after a while, the confiscation should not be found sufficient to
support the paper coinage (as I am morally certain it will not), then,
instead of cementing, it will add infinitely to the dissociation,
distraction, and confusion of these confederate republics, both with
relation to each other, and to the several parts within themselves. But
if the confiscation should so far succeed as to sink the paper currency,
the cement is gone with the circulation. In the mean time its binding
force will be very uncertain, and it will straiten or relax with every
variation in the credit of the paper.

One thing only is certain in this scheme, which is an effect seemingly
collateral, but direct, I have no doubt, in the minds of those who
conduct this business, that is, its effect in producing an OLIGARCHY in
every one of the republics. A paper circulation, not founded on any real
money deposited or engaged for, amounting already to four-and-forty
millions of English money, and this currency by force substituted in the
place of the coin of the kingdom, becoming thereby the substance of its
revenue, as well as the medium of all its commercial and civil
intercourse, must put the whole of what power, authority, and influence,
is left, in any form whatsoever it may assume, into the hands of the
managers and conductors of this circulation.

In England we feel the influence of the bank; though it is only the
centre of a voluntary dealing. He knows little indeed of the influence
of money upon mankind, who does not see the force of the management of a
monied concern, which is so much more extensive, and in its nature so
much more depending on the managers than any of ours. But this is not
merely a money concern. There is another member in the system
inseparably connected with this money management. It consists in the
means of drawing out at discretion portions of the confiscated lands for
sale; and carrying on a process of continual transmutation of paper into
land, and of land into paper. When we follow this process in its
effects, we may conceive something of the intensity of the force with
which this system must operate. By this means the spirit of
money-jobbing and speculation goes into the mass of land itself, and
incorporates with it. By this kind of operation, that species of
property becomes (as it were) volatilized; it assumes an unnatural and
monstrous activity, and thereby throws into the hands of the several
managers, principal and subordinate, Parisian and provincial, all the
representative of money, and perhaps a full tenth part of all the land
in France, which has now acquired the worst and most pernicious part of
the evil of a paper circulation,--the greatest possible uncertainty in
its value. They have reversed the Latonian kindness to the landed
property of Delos. They have sent theirs to be blown about, like the
light fragments of a wreck, oras et littora circum.

The new dealers, being all habitually adventurers, and without any fixed
habits or local predilections, will purchase to job out again, as the
market of paper, or of money, or of land, shall present an advantage.
For though a holy bishop thinks that agriculture will derive great
advantage from the "ENLIGHTENED" usurers who are to purchase the church
confiscations, I, who am not a good, but an old farmer, with great
humility beg leave to tell his late lordship, that usury is not tutor of
agriculture; and if the word "enlightened" be understood according to
the new dictionary, as it always is in your new schools, I cannot
conceive how a man's not believing in God can teach him to cultivate the
earth with the least of any additional skill or encouragement. "Diis
immortalibus sero," said an old Roman, when he held one handle of the
plough, whilst Death held the other. Though you were to join in the
commission all the directors of the two academies to the directors of
the Caisse d'Escompte, an old experienced peasant is worth them all. I
have got more information upon a curious and interesting branch of
husbandry, in one short conversation with an old Carthusian monk, than I
have derived from all the Bank directors that I have ever conversed
with. However, there is no cause for apprehension from the meddling of
money-dealers with rural economy. These gentlemen are too wise in their
generation. At first, perhaps, their tender and susceptible imaginations
may be captivated with the innocent and unprofitable delights of a
pastoral life; but in a little time they will find that agriculture is a
trade much more laborious, and much less lucrative, than that which they
had left. After making its panegyric, they will turn their backs on it
like their great precursor and prototype. They may, like him, begin by
singing "Beatus ille"--but what will be the end?

"Haec ubi locutus foenerator Alphius,
Jamjam futurus rusticus
Omnem relegit Idibus pecuniam;
Quaerit Calendis ponere."

They will cultivate the Caisse d'Eglise, under the sacred auspices of
this prelate, with much more profit than its vineyards and its
corn-fields. They will employ their talents according to their habits
and their interests. They will not follow the plough whilst they can
direct treasuries, and govern provinces.

Your legislators, in everything new, are the very first who have founded
a commonwealth upon gaming, and infused this spirit into it, as its
vital breath. The great object in these politics is to metamorphose
France from a great kingdom into one great play-table: to turn its
inhabitants into a nation of gamesters; to make speculation as extensive
as life; to mix it with all its concerns; and to divert the whole of the
hopes and fears of the people from their usual channels into the
impulses, passions, and superstitions of those who live on chances. They
loudly proclaim their opinion, that this their present system of a
republic cannot possibly exist without this kind of gaming fund; and
that the very thread of its life is spun out of the staple of these
speculations. The old gaming in funds was mischievous enough
undoubtedly; but it was so only to individuals. Even when it had its
greatest extent in the Mississippi and South Sea, it affected but few,
comparatively; where it extends further, as in lotteries, the spirit has
but a single object. But where the law, which in most circumstances
forbids, and in none countenances, gaming, is itself debauched, so as to
reverse its nature and policy, and expressly to force the subject to
this destructive table, by bringing the spirit and symbols of gaming
into the minutest matters, and engaging everybody in it, and in
everything, a more dreadful epidemic distemper of that kind is spread
than yet has appeared in the world. With you a man can neither earn nor
buy his dinner without a speculation. What he receives in the morning
will not have the same value at night. What he is compelled to take as
pay for an old debt will not be received as the same when he comes to
pay a debt contracted by himself; nor will it be the same when by prompt
payment he would avoid contracting any debt at all. Industry must wither
away. Economy must be driven from your country. Careful provision will
have no existence. Who will labour without knowing the amount of his
pay? Who will study to increase what none can estimate? Who will
accumulate, when he does not know the value of what he saves? If you
abstract it from its uses in gaming, to accumulate your paper wealth,
would be not the providence of a man, but the distempered instinct of a


Their fanatical confidence in the omnipotence of church plunder has
induced these philosophers to overlook all care of the public estate,
just as the dream of the philosopher's stone induces dupes, under the
more plausible delusion of the hermetic art, to neglect all rational
means of improving their fortunes. With these philosophic financiers,
this universal medicine made of church mummy is to cure all the evils of
the state. These gentlemen, perhaps, do not believe a great deal in the
miracles of piety; but it cannot be questioned, that they have an
undoubting faith in the prodigies of sacrilege. Is there a debt which
presses them?--Issue assignats. Are compensations to be made, or a
maintenance decreed to those whom they have robbed of their freehold in
their office, or expelled from their profession?--Assignats. Is a fleet
to be fitted out?--Assignats. If sixteen millions sterling of these
assignats, forced on the people, leave the wants of the state as urgent
as ever--issue, says one, thirty millions sterling of assignats--says
another, issue fourscore millions more of assignats. The only difference
among their financial factions is on the greater or the lesser quantity
of assignats to be imposed on the public sufferance. They are all
professors of assignats. Even those, whose natural good sense and
knowledge of commerce, not obliterated by philosophy, furnish decisive
arguments against this delusion conclude their arguments by proposing
the emission of assignats. I suppose they must talk of assignats, as no
other language would be understood. All experience of their inefficacy
does not in the least discourage them. Are the old assignats depreciated
at market? What is the remedy? Issue new assignats.--Mais si maladia
opiniatria, non vult se garire, quid illi facere? assignare--postea
assignare; ensuita assignare. The word is a trifle altered. The Latin of
your present doctors may be better than that of your old comedy; their
wisdom and the variety of their resources are the same. They have not
more notes in their song than the cuckoo; though, far from the softness
of that harbinger of summer and plenty, their voice is as harsh and as
ominous as that of the raven.


It may, perhaps, appear like a sort of repetition of what we have before
said, to insist here upon the nature of UGLINESS; as I imagine it to be
in all respects the opposite to those qualities which we have laid down
for the constituents of beauty. But though ugliness be the opposite to
beauty, it is not the opposite to proportion and fitness. For it is
possible that a thing may be very ugly with any proportions, and with a
perfect fitness to any uses. Ugliness I imagine likewise to be
consistent enough with an idea of the sublime. But I would by no means
insinuate that ugliness of itself is a sublime idea, unless united with
such qualities as excite a strong terror.


GRACEFULNESS is an idea not very different from beauty; it consists in
much the same things. Gracefulness is an idea belonging to POSTURE and
MOTION. In both these, to be graceful, it is requisite that there be no
appearance of difficulty; there is required a small inflection of the
body; and a composure of the parts in such a manner, as not to encumber
each other, not to appear divided by sharp and sudden angles. In this
ease, this roundness, this delicacy of attitude and motion, it is that
all the magic of grace consists, and what is called its je ne sais quoi;
as will be obvious to any observer, who considers attentively the Venus
de Medicis, the Antinous, or any statue generally allowed to be graceful
in a high degree.


When any body is composed of parts smooth and polished, without pressing
upon each other, without showing any ruggedness or confusion, and at the
same time affecting some REGULAR SHAPE, I call it ELEGANT. It is closely
allied to the beautiful, differing from it only in this REGULARITY;
which, however, as it makes a very material difference in the affection
produced, may very well constitute another species. Under this head I
rank those delicate and regular works of art, that imitate no
determinate object in nature, as elegant buildings, and pieces of
furniture. When any object partakes of the above-mentioned qualities,
are of those of beautiful bodies, and is withal of great dimensions, it
is full as remote from the idea of mere beauty: I call it FINE or


The foregoing description of beauty, so far as it is taken in by the
eye, may be greatly illustrated by describing the nature of objects
which produce a similar effect through the touch. This I call the
beautiful in FEELING. It corresponds wonderfully with what causes the
same species of pleasure to the sight. There is a chain in all our
sensations; they are all but different sorts of feelings calculated to
be affected by various sorts of objects, but all to be affected after
the same manner. All bodies that are pleasant to the touch, are so by
the slightness of the resistance they make. Resistance is either to
motion along the surface, or to the pressure of the parts on one
another: if the former be slight, we call the body smooth; if the
latter, soft. The chief pleasure we receive by feeling, is in the one or
the other of these qualities; and if there be a combination of both, our
pleasure is greatly increased. This is so plain, that it is rather more
fit to illustrate other things, than to be illustrated itself by an
example. The next source of pleasure in this sense, as in every other,
is the continually presenting somewhat new; and we find that bodies
which continually vary their surface, are much the most pleasant or
beautiful to the feeling, as any one that pleases may experience. The
third property in such objects is, that though the surface continually
varies its direction, it never varies it suddenly. The application of
anything sudden, even though the impression itself have little or
nothing of violence, is disagreeable. The quick application of a finger
a little warmer or colder than usual, without notice, makes us start; a
slight tap on the shoulder, not expected, has the same effect. Hence it
is that angular bodies, bodies that suddenly vary the direction of the
outline, afford so little pleasure to the feeling. Every such change is
a sort of climbing or falling in miniature; so that squares, triangles,
and other angular figures, are neither beautiful to the sight nor
feeling. Whoever compares his state of mind, on feeling soft, smooth,
variated, unangular bodies, with that in which he finds himself on the
view of a beautiful object, will perceive a very striking analogy in the
effects of both; and which may go a good way towards discovering their
common cause. Feeling and sight, in this respect, differ in but a few
points. The touch takes in the pleasure of softness, which is not
primarily an object of sight; the sight, on the other hand, comprehends
colour, which can hardly be made perceptible to the touch: the touch
again has the advantage in a new idea of pleasure resulting from a
moderate degree of warmth; but the eye triumphs in the infinite extent
and multiplicity of its objects. But there is such a similitude in the
pleasures of these senses, that I am apt to fancy, if it were possible
that one might discern colour by feeling (as it is said some blind men
have done), that the same colours, and the same disposition of
colouring, which are found beautiful to the sight, would be found
likewise most grateful to the touch. But, setting aside conjectures, let
us pass to the other sense: of Hearing.


In this sense we find an equal aptitude to be affected in a soft and
delicate manner; and how far sweet or beautiful sounds agree with our
descriptions of beauty in other senses, the experience of every one must
decide. Milton has described this species of music in one of his
juvenile poems. (L'Allegro.) I need not say that Milton was perfectly
well versed in that art; and that no man had a finer ear, with a happier
manner of expressing the affections of one sense by metaphors taken from
another. The description is as follows:--

--"And ever against eating cares,
Lap me in SOFT Lydian airs:
In notes with many a WINDING bout
With wanton heed, and giddy cunning,
The MELTING voice through MAZES running;
UNTWISTING all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony."

Let us parallel this with the softness, the winding surface, the
unbroken continuance, the easy gradation of the beautiful in other
things; and all the diversities of the several senses, with all their
several affections; will rather help to throw lights from one another to
finish one clear, consistent idea of the whole, than to obscure it by
their intricacy and variety.

To the above-mentioned description I shall add one or two remarks. The
first is; that the beautiful in music will not bear that loudness and
strength of sounds, which may be used to raise other passions; nor notes
which are shrill or harsh, or deep; it agrees best with such as are
clear, even, smooth, and weak. The second is: that great variety, and
quick transitions from one measure or tone to another, are contrary to
the genius of the beautiful in music. Such transitions often excite
mirth, or other sudden or tumultuous passions; but not that sinking,
that melting, that languor, which is the characteristical effect of the
beautiful as it regards every sense. (I ne'er am merry when I hear sweet
music.--Shakspeare.) The passion excited by beauty is in fact nearer to
a species of melancholy, than to jollity and mirth. I do not here mean
to confine music to any one species of notes, or tones, neither is it an
art in which I can say I have any great skill. My sole design in this
remark is, to settle a consistent idea of beauty. The infinite variety
of the affections of the soul will suggest to a good head, and skilful
ear, a variety of such sounds as are fitted to raise them. It can be no
prejudice to this, to clear and distinguish some few particulars, that
belong to the same class, and are consistent with each other, from the
immense crowd of different, and sometimes contradictory, ideas, that
rank vulgarly under the standard of beauty. And of these it is my
intention to mark such only of the leading points as show the conformity
of the sense of hearing with the other senses, in the article of their


It is something extraordinary, that the only symptom of alarm in the
Church of England should appear in the petition of some dissenters; with
whom, I believe, very few in this house are yet acquainted; and of whom
you know no more than that you are assured by the honourable gentleman,
that they are not Mahometans. Of the Church we know they are not, by the
name that they assume. They are then dissenters. The first symptom of an
alarm comes from some dissenters assembled round the lines of Chatham;
these lines become the security of the Church of England! The honourable
gentleman, in speaking of the lines of Chatham, tells us that they serve
not only for the security of the wooden walls of England, but for the
defence of the Church of England. I suspect the wooden walls of England
secure the lines of Chatham, rather than the lines of Chatham secure the
wooden walls of England.

Sir, the Church of England, if only defended by this miserable petition
upon your table, must, I am afraid, upon the principles of true
fortification, be soon destroyed. But fortunately her walls, bulwarks,
and bastions, are constructed of other materials than of stubble and
straw; are built up with the strong and stable matter of the gospel of
liberty, and founded on a true, constitutional, legal establishment.
But, Sir, she has other securities; she has the security of her own
doctrines; she has the security of the piety, the sanctity of her own
professors; their learning is a bulwark to defend her; she has the
security of the two universities, not shook in any single battlement, in
any single pinnacle. ...

But if, after all, this danger is to be apprehended, if you are really
fearful that Christianity will indirectly suffer by this liberty, you
have my free consent; go directly, and by the straight way, and not by a
circuit, in which in your road you may destroy your friends, point your
arms against these men who do the mischief you fear promoting; point
your arms against men, who, not contented with endeavouring to turn your
eyes from the blaze and effulgence of light, by which life and
immortality is so gloriously demonstrated by the Gospel, would even
extinguish that faint glimmering of nature, that only comfort supplied
to ignorant man before this great illumination--them who, by attacking
even the possibility of all revelation, arraign all the dispensations of
Providence to man. These are the wicked dissenters you ought to fear;
these are the people against whom you ought to aim the shafts of law;
these are the men to whom, arrayed in all the terrors of government, I
would say, You shall not degrade us into brutes; these men, these
factious men, as the honourable gentleman properly called them, are the
just objects of vengeance, not the conscientious dissenter; these men,
who would take away whatever ennobles the rank or consoles the
misfortunes of human nature, by breaking off that connection of
observations, of affections, of hopes and fears, which bind us to the
Divinity, and constitute the glorious and distinguishing prerogative of
humanity, that of being a religious creature; against these I would have
the laws rise in all their majesty of terrors, to fulminate such vain
and impious wretches, and to awe them into impotence by the only dread
they can fear or believe, to learn that eternal lesson--Discite
justitiam moniti, et non temnere Divos.

At the same time that I would cut up the very root of atheism, I would
respect all conscience; all conscience, that is really such, and which
perhaps its very tenderness proves to be sincere. I wish to see the
established Church of England great and powerful; I wish to see her
foundations laid low and deep, that she may crush the giant powers of
rebellious darkness; I would have her head raised up to that heaven to
which she conducts us. I would have her open wide her hospitable gates
by a noble and liberal comprehension; but I would have no breaches in
her wall; I would have her cherish all those who are within, and pity
all those who are without; I would have her a common blessing to the
world, an example, if not an instructor, to those who have not the
happiness to belong to her; I would have her give a lesson of peace to
mankind, that a vexed and wandering generation might be taught to seek
for repose and toleration in the maternal bosom of Christian charity,
and not in the harlot lap of infidelity and indifference.


Abstract views, on the danger of.

Abstract words, effects of.

Accumulation a state principle.

Administration and legislation, on the due balance of.

Age, our own, on the injustice paid to.

Alfred the Great, political genius of.
--the promoter of learning.
--his religious character.

Ambassadors of infamy, their tyranny.

Ambition, incentives of.
--disappointed, picture of.

America, great national progress of.
--on her resistance to taxation.
--on her early colonization, and the greatness of her future.

--on the Pr