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to government; but on the contrary, by appropriating supply to ser. vice, it gives it greater vigour. It provides the means of order and foresight to a minister of finance, which may always keep all the objects of his office, and their state, "condition, and relations, distinctly before him. It brings forward accounts without hurrying and distressing the accountants ; whilst it provides for public convenience, it regards private rights. It'extinguishes secret corruption almost to the possibility of its existence. It destroys direct and visible influence' equal to the offices of at least ' fifty members of parliament. Lastly, it prevents the provision for his majesty's children, from being diverted to the political purposes of his minister.
These are the points on which I rely for the merit of the plan: I. pursue economy in a secondary view, and only as it is connected with these great objects. I am persuaded, that even for supply this scheme will be far from unfruitful, if it be executed to the extent I propose it. I think it will give to the public, at its periods, two or three hundred thousand pounds a year : if not, it will give them a system of economy, which is itself a great revenue. It gives me no little pride and satisfaction to find that the principles of my proceedings áre, in many respects, the very same with those which are now pursued in the plan of the French minister of finance. I am sure that I lay before you a scheme easy and practicable in all its parts. I know it is common at once to applaud and to reject all attempts of this nature. I know it is common for men to say, 'that such and such things are perfectly right-very desirable ; but that, unfortunately, they are not practicable. Oh! no, Sir, no. Those things which are not practicable, are not desirable. There is nothing in the world really beneficial, that does not lie within the reach of an informed understanding, and a well-directed pursuit. There is nothing that God has judged good for us, that he has not given us the means to accomplish, both in the natural and the moral world. If we cry, like children for the moon, like children we must cry on.
We must follow the nature of our affairs, and conform ourselves to our situation. If we do, our objects are plain and compassable. Why should we resolve to do nothing because what I propose to you may not be the exact demand of the petition; when we are far from resolved to comply even with what evidently is so ? Does this sort of chicanery become us? The people are the masters. They have only to express their wants 'at large and in gross. We are the expert artists ; we are the skilful 'workmen ; to shape their desires into perfect form, and to fit the utensil to the use. They are the sufferers; they tell the symptoms of the complaint; but we know the ex
act seat of the disease, and how to apply the remedy according to the rules of art. How shocking would it be to see us pervert our skill into a sinister and servile dexterity, for the purpose of evading our duty, and defrauding our employers, who are our natural lords, of the object of their just expectations. I think the whole not only practicable, but practicable in a very short time. If we are in earnest about it, and if we exert that industry, and those talents in forwarding the work, which I am afraid may be exerted in impeding it, I engage that the whole may be put in complete execution within a year. For my own part, I have very little to recommend me for this or for any task, but a kind of earnest and anxious perseverance of mind, wbich, with all its good and all its evil effects, is moulded into my constitution. I faithfully engage to the house, if they choose to appoint me to any part in the execution of this work, which (when they have made it theirs by the improvements of their wisdom, will be worthy of the able assistance they may give me) that by night and by day, in town or in country, at the desk or in the forest, I will, without regard to convenience, ease, or pleasure, devote myself to their service, not expecting or admitting any reward whatsoever. I owe to this country my labour, which is my all ; and owe to it ten times more industry, if ten times more I could exert. And after all I shall be an unprofitable servant.
At the same time, if I am able, and if I shall be permitted, I will lend an humble helping hand to any other good work which is going on. I have not, Sir, the frantic presumption to suppose, that this plan contains in it the whole of what the public has a right to expect, in the great work of reformation they call for. Indeed, it falls infinitely short of it. It falls short, even of my own ideas. I have some thoughts not yet fully ripened, relative to a reform in the customs and excise, as well as in some other branches of financial administration. There are other things too, which form essential parts in a great plan for the purpose of restoring the independence of parliament. The Contractor's Bill of last year it is fit to revive; and I rejoice that it is in better hands than mine. The bill for suspending the votes of custom-house officers, brought into parliament several years ago, by one of our worthiest and wisest members, sw. Dowdeswell, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1795,7 would to God we could along with the plan revive the person who designed it. But a man of very real integrity, honour, and ability will be found to take his place, and to carry his idea into full execution. You all see how necessary it is to review our military expenses for some years past, and, if possible, to bind up and close that bleeding artery of
profusion : but that business also, I have reason to hope, will be undertaken by abilities that are fully adequate to it. Something must also be devised (if possible) to check the ruinous expense of elections.
Sir, all or most of these things must be done. Every one must take his part.
If we should be able by dexterity or power, or intrigue, to disappoint the expectations of our constituents, what will it avail us ? We shall never be strong or artful enough to party, or to put by the irresistible demands of our situation. That situation calls upon us, and upon our constituents too, with a voice which will be heard. I am sure no man is more zealously attached than I am to the privi. leges of this house, particularly in regard to the exclusive management of money. The lords have no right to the disposition, in any sense, of the public purse ; but they have gone further in self-denial than our utmost jealousy could have required. A power of examining accounts, to censure, correct, and punish, we never, that I know of, thought of denying to the House of Lords. It is something more than a century since we voted that body useless; they have now voted themselves 80. The whole hope of reformation is at length cast upon us ; and let us not deceive the nation which does us the honour to hope everything from our virtue. If all the nation: be not equally forward to press this daty upon us, yet be assured, that all equally expect we should perform it. The respectful silence of those who wait upon your pleasure, ought to be as powerful with you as the call of those who require your service as their right. Some, without doors, affect to feel hurt for your dignity, because they suppose that menaces are held out to you. Justify their good opinion, by showing that no menaces are necessary to stimulate you to your duty. But, Sir, whilst we may sympathize with them, in one point, who sympathize with us in another, we ought to attend no less to those who approach us like men, and who, in the guise of petitioners, speak to us in the tone of a comcealed authority. It is not wise to force them to speak out more plainly, what they plainly mean,-But the petitioners are violent. Be it so. Those who are least anxious about your conduct, are not those that love you most. Moderate affection, and satiated enjoyment, are cold and respectful; but an ardent and injured passion is tempered up with wrath, and grief, and shame, and conscious worth, and the maddening sense of violated right. A jealous love lights his torch from the firebrands of the furies. They who call upon you to belong wholly to the people, are those who wish you to return to your proper home, to the sphere: of your duty, to the post of your honour, to the mansion-house of
all genuine, serene, and solid satisfaction. We have furnished to the people of England (indeed we have) some real cause of jealousy. Let us leave that sort of company which, if it does not destroy our innocence, pollutes our honour ; let us free ourselves at once from everything that can increase their suspicions, and inflame their just resentment; let us cast away from us, with a generous scorn, all the love-tokens and symbols that we bave been vain and light enough to accept;-all the bracelets and snuff-boxes, and miniature pictures, and hair-devices, and all the other adulterous trinkets that are the pledges of our alienation, and the monuments of our shame. Let us return to our legitimate home, and all jars and all quarrels will be lost in embraces. Let the commons in parliament assembled, be one and the same thing with the commons at large. The distinctions that are made to separate us, are unnatural and wicked contrivances. Let us identify, let us incorporate ourselves with the people. Let us cut 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 jettys 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 worid. 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 receive ing. I feel with comfort, that we are all warmed with these sentiments, and while we are thus warm, I wish we may go directly and with a cheerful heart, to this salutary work.
SPEECH ON FOX'S EAST INDIA BILL
[IN November, 1783, Fox (who was one of the secretaries of state in the Coalition ministry) introduced a bill into parliament, which had for its object the vesting of the affairs of the East India Company in the hands of commissioners; and also a bill for the better government of the East
Indies. Fox proposed that a board should be appointed, which should possess the entire control of the affairs of India. These bills excited great attention, and led to protracted debates. On the 1st December, on the question of going into committee on the first of these bills, Burke, who was paymaster of the forces, delivered the following splendid speech, replete with historical research and glowing with gorgeous imagery. The bill passed through the House of Commons, and was read a first time in the Lords. The King, however, took the most active steps to defeat the measure, and it was rejected by the Lords when the second reading was moved. The Coalition ministry soon fell, and William Pitt, who had op posed the bill, was appointed first Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. For the details of these events the reader is referred to the memoir prefixed to this volume.
The following is the magnificent oration which Burke delivered on the bill. It is full of interesting matter, and displays an intimate knowledge of the East. The character of Fox at the conclusion, has always been admired as one of the finest specimens of panegyric in the language. What a pity that two friends of whom one could pay such a tribute, and the other deserve it, should have been sundered in after years by party strife.]
Mr. SPEAKER I thank you for pointing to me, I really wished much to engage your attention in an early stage of the debate. I have been long very deeply, though perhaps ineffectually, engaged in the preliminary inquiries, which have continued without intermission for some years. Though I have felt, with some degree of sensibility, the natural and inevitable impressions of the several matters of fact, as they have been successively disclosed, I have not at any time attempted to trouble you on the merits of the subject, and very little on any of the points which incidentally arose in the course of our proceedings. But I should be sorry to be found totally silent upon this day. Our inquiries are now come to their final issue.--It is now to be determined whether the three years of laborious parlia" mentary research, whether the twenty years of patient Indian suffer ing, are to produce a substantial reform in our eastern administration, or whether our knowledge of the grievances has abated our zeal for the correction of them, and our very inquiry into the evil was only a pretext to elude the remedy which is demanded from us by humanity, by justice, and by every principle of true policy. Depend upon it, this business cannot be indifferent to our fame. It will turn out: a matter of great disgrace or great glory to the whole British nation. We are on a conspicuous stage, and the world marks our demeanour. i I am therefore a little concerned to perceive the spirit and temper