صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

just distinction, I know not whether your Majesty's condition, or that of the English nation, would deserve most to be lamented..

If an English king be hated or despised, he must be unhappy; and this, perhaps, is the only political truth which he ought to be convinced of without experiment. But if the English people should no longer confine their resentment to a submissive representation of their wrongs; if, following the glorious example of their ancestors, they should no longer appeal to the creature of the constitution, but to that high Being who gave them the rights of humanity, whose gifts it were sacrilege to surrender, let me ask you, Sir, upon what part of your subjects would you rely for assistance?

The people of Ireland have been uniformly plundered and oppressed. In return, they give you every day fresh marks of their resentment. They despise the miserable governor you have sent them, because he is the creature of Lord Bute; nor is it from any natural confusion in their ideas that they are so ready to confound the original of a king with the disgraceful representation of him.

The distance of the colonies would make it impossible for them to take an active concern in your affairs, if they were as well affected to your government as they once pretended to be to your person. They were ready enough to distinguish between you and your ministers. They complained of an act of the legislature, but traced the origin of it no higher than to the servants of the crown; they pleased themselves with the hope that their sovereign, if not favorable to their cause, at least was impartial. The decisive personal part you took against them has effectually banished that first distinction from their minds. They consider you as united with your servants against America, and know not how to distinguish the sovereign and a venal parliament on one side, from the real sentiments of the English people on the other. Looking forward to independence, they might possibly receive you for their king; but if ever you retire to America, be assured they will give you such a Covenant to digest as the Presbytery of Scotland would have been ashamed to offer to Charles the Second. They left their native land in search of freedom, and found it in a desert. Divided as they are into a thousand forms of policy and religion, there is one

point in which they all agree: they equally detest the pageantry of a king and the supercilious hypocrisy of a bishop.

It is not, then, from the alienated affections of Ireland or America that you can reasonably look for assistance; still less from the people of England, who are actually contending for their rights, and in this great question are parties against you. You are not, however, destitute of every appearance of support; you have all the Jacobites, Nonjurors, Roman Catholics, and Tories of this country, and all Scotland, without exception. Considering from what family you are descended, the choice of your friends has been singularly directed; and truly, Sir, if you had not lost the Whig interest of England, I should admire your dexterity in turning the hearts of your enemies.. . .

As to the Scotch, I must suppose your heart and understanding so biased, from your earliest infancy, in their favor, that nothing less than your own misfortunes can undeceive you. You will not accept of the uniform experience of your ancestors; and, when once a man is determined to believe, the very absurdity of the doctrine confirms him in his faith. A bigoted understanding can draw a proof of attachment to the house of Hanover from a notorious zeal for the house of Stuart, and find an earnest of future loyalty in former rebellions. Appearances are, however, in their favor, so strongly, indeed, that one would think they had forgotten that you are their lawful king, and had mistaken you for a pretender to the crown. Let it be admitted, then, that the Scotch are as sincere in their present professions as if you were, in reality, not an Englishman, but a Briton of the North. You would not be the first prince of their native country against whom they have rebelled, nor the first whom they have basely betrayed.

From the uses to which one part of the army has been too frequently applied, you have some reason to expect that there are no services they would refuse. Here, too, we trace the partiality of your understanding. You take the sense of the army from the conduct of the Guards, with the same justice with which you collect the sense of the people from the representations of the ministry. Your marching regiments, sir, will not make the Guards their example, either as soldiers or subjects. They feel, and resent as they ought to do that invariable, undistinguishing favor with which the Guards are treated; while

those gallant troops by whom every hazardous, every laborious service is performed, are left to perish in garrisons abroad, or pine in quarters at home, neglected and forgotten. If they had no sense of the great original duty they owe their country, their resentment would operate like patriotism, and leave your cause to be defended by those to whom you have lavished the rewards and honors of their profession. The Pretorian bands, enervated and debauched as they were, had still strength enough to awe the Roman populace, but when the distant legions took the alarm, they marched to Rome, and gave away the empire.

On this side, then, whichever way you turn your eyes, you see nothing but perplexity and distress. You may determine to support the very ministry who have reduced your affairs to this deplorable situation; you may shelter yourself under the forms of a parliament, and set your people at defiance; but be assured, Sir, that such a resolution would be as imprudent as it would be odious. If it did not immediately shake your establishment, it would rob you of your peace of mind forever. .

These sentiments, Sir, and the style they are conveyed in, may be offensive, perhaps, because they are new to you. Accustomed to the language of courtiers, you measure their affections by the vehemence of their expressions; and when they only praise you indifferently, you admire their sincerity. But this is not a time to trifle with your fortune. They deceive you, Sir, who tell you that you have many friends whose affections are founded upon a principle of personal attachment. The first foundation of friendship is not the power of conferring benefits, but the equality with which they are received and may be returned. The fortune which made you a king forbade you to have a friend. It is a law of nature, which cannot be violated with impunity. The mistaken prince who looks for friendship will find a favorite, and in that favorite the ruin of his affairs.

The people of England are loyal to the house of Hanover; not from a vain preference of one family to another, but from a conviction that the establishment of that family was necessary to the support of their civil and religious liberties. This, Sir, is a principle of allegiance equally solid and rational, fit for Englishmen to adopt, and well worthy of your Majesty's encouragement. We cannot long be deluded by nominal distinctions. The name of Stuart, of itself, is only contemptible; armed with the

sovereign authority, their principles are formidable. The prince who imitates their conduct should be warned by their example; and, while he plumes himself upon the security of his title to the crown, should remember that, as it was acquired by one revolution, it may be lost by another.



September 28, 1771.

The people of England are not apprised of the full extent of their obligations to you. They have yet no adequate idea of the endless variety of your character. They have seen you distinguished and successful in the continued violation of those moral and political duties by which the little as well as the great societies of life are connected and held together. Every color, every character became you. With a rate of abilities which Lord Weymouth very justly looks down upon with contempt, you have done as much mischief to the community as Cromwell would have done, if Cromwell had been a coward, and as much as Machiavel, if Machiavel had not known that an appearance of morals and religion are useful in society. To a thinking man the influence of the crown will in no view appear so formidable as when he observes to what enormous excesses it has safely conducted your Grace, without a ray of real understanding, without even the pretension to common decency or principle of any kind, or a single spark of personal resolution. What must be the operation of that pernicious influence (for which our kings have wisely exchanged the nugatory name of prerogative), that in the highest stations can so abundantly supply the absence of virtue, courage, and abilities, and qualify a man to be the minister of a great nation, whom a private gentleman would be ashamed and afraid to admit into his family! Like the universal passport of an ambassador, it supersedes the prohibition of the laws, banishes the staple virtues of the country, and introduces vice and folly triumphantly into all the departments of the state. Other princes, besides His Majesty, have had the means of corruption within their reach, but they have used it with moderation. In former times, corruption was considered as a foreign auxiliary to government, and only called in upon extraordinary emergencies. The unfeigned piety,

the sanctified religion, of George the Third, have taught him to new model the civil forces of the state. The natural resources of the crown are no longer confided in. Corruption glitters in the van, collects and maintains a standing army of mercenaries, and at the same moment impoverishes and enslaves the country. His Majesty's predecessors (excepting that worthy family from which you, my Lord, are unquestionably descended) had some generous qualities in their composition, with vices, I confess, or frailties in abundance. They were kings or gentlemen, not hypocrites or priests. They were at the head of the Church, but did not know the value of their office. They said their prayers without ceremony, and had too little priestcraft in their understanding to reconcile the sanctimonious forms of religion with the utter destruction of the morality of their people.

My Lord, this is fact, not declamation. With all your partiality to the house of Stuart, you must confess that even Charles the Second would have blushed at that open encouragement, at those eager, meretricious caresses, with which every species of private vice and public prostitution is received at St. James's. The unfortunate house of Stuart has been treated with an asperity which, if comparison be a defense, seems to border upon injustice. Neither Charles nor his brother were qualified to support such a system of measures as would be necessary to change the government and subvert the constitution of England. One of them was too much in earnest in his pleasures, the other in his religion. But the danger to this country would cease to be problematical, if the crown should ever descend to a prince whose apparent simplicity might throw his subjects off their guard, who might be no libertine in behavior, who should have no sense of honor to restrain him, and who, with just religion enough to impose upon the multitude, might have no scruples of conscience to interfere with his morality. With these honorable qualifications, and the decisive advantage of situation, low craft and falsehood are all the abilities that are wanting to destroy the wisdom of ages, and to deface the noblest monument that human policy has erected. I know such a man; my Lord, I know you both; and, with the blessing of God (for I, too, am religious), the people of England shall know you as well as I do. . . . From whatever origin

« السابقةمتابعة »