When the House of Commons was thus made to consider itself as the master of its constituents, there wanted but one thing to secure that House against all possible future deviation towards popularity; an unlimited fund of money to be laid out according to the pleasure of the Court. This is punishing the offence in the offending part. It is a right, the effect of which is to give to the people, that man, and that man only, whom by their voices, actually, not constructively given, they declare that they know, esteem, love, and trust. The money was granted upon the same plan which had been followed in the reign of Queen Anne. Conscious of their independence, they bear themselves with a lofty air to the exterior Ministers. To model our principles to our duties and our situation. 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. Here it is that the natural strength of the kingdom, the great peers, the leading landed gentlemen, the opulent merchants and manufacturers, the substantial yeomanry, must interpose, to rescue their Prince, themselves, and their posterity. Amazon.in - Buy Burke's Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents: Edited, with Introduction and Notes (Classic Reprint) book online at best prices in India on Amazon.in. In this respect it was in the higher part of Government what juries are in the lower. An attempt was at that time made (but without any idea of proscription) to break their corps, to discountenance their doctrines, to revive connexions of a different kind, to restore the principles and policy of the Whigs, to reanimate the cause of Liberty by Ministerial countenance; and then for the first time were men seen attached in office to every principle they had maintained in opposition. It had always, until of late, been held the first duty of Parliament, to refuse to support Government until power was in the hands of persons who were acceptable to the people, or while factions predominated in the Court in which the nation had no confidence. This belongs equally to all parts of Government, and in all forms. However, the extraordinary charges of Government were not thought a ground fit to be relied on. Members of Parliament were to be hardened into an insensibility to pride as well as to duty. The unifying theme of all three documents is Burke’s fear of arbitrary power divorced from political prudence. The time was come, to restore Royalty to its original splendour. Party was to be totally done away, with all its evil works. No great external calamity has visited the nation; no pestilence or famine. Whilst any errours 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. It were a folly well deserving servitude for its punishment, to be full of confidence where the laws are full of distrust; and to give to an House of Commons, arrogating to its sole resolution the most harsh and odious part of legislative authority, that degree of submission which is due only to the Legislature itself. However, to put the matter beyond all doubt, in the Speech from the Throne, after thanking Parliament for the relief so liberally granted, the Ministers inform the two Houses, that they will endeavour to confine the expences of the Civil Government—within what limits think you? 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 pasted 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. It is not in Parliament alone that the remedy for Parliamentary disorders can be compleated; hardly indeed can it begin there. For his own person, no office, or emolument, or title; no promotion, ecclesiastical, or civil, or military, or naval, for children, or brothers, or kindred. The people indeed have been told, that this power of discretionary disqualification is vested in hands that they may trust, and who will be sure not to abuse it to their prejudice. I believe the reader would wish to find no substance in a doctrine which has a tendency to destroy all test of character as deduced from conduct. But the pleasant part of the story is that these King's friends have no more ground for usurping such a title, than a resident freeholder in Cumberland or in Cornwall. Until the matter is decided, the country will remain in its present confusion. Noté /5. 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. Such is the construction in common recoveries. I know the diligence with which my observations on our public disorders have been made; I am very sure of the integrity of the motives on which they are published: I cannot be equally confident in any plan for the absolute cure of those disorders, or for their certain future prevention. Foreign powers, confident in the knowledge of their character, have not scrupled to violate the most solemn treaties; and, in defiance of them, to make conquests in the midst of a general peace, and in the heart of Europe. Breves et infaustos populi Romani amores. No wonder that it produces such effects. If the opinion of the country be ot no use as a means of power or consideration, the qualities which usually procure that opinion will be no longer cultivated. The persons of the greatest Parliamentary experience, with whom I have conversed, did constantly, in canvassing the fate of questions, allow something to the Court-side, upon account of the elections depending or imminent. They have totally abandoned the shattered and old-fashioned fortress of prerogative, and made a lodgement in the strong hold of Parliament itself. Government may in a great measure be restored, if any considerable bodies of men have honesty and resolution enough never to accept Administration, unless this garrison of King's men, which is stationed, as in a citadel, to controul and enslave it, be entirely broken and disbanded, and every work they have thrown up be leveled with the ground. The third point, and that on which the success of the whole scheme ultimately depended, was to bring Parliament to an acquiescence in this project. The name by which they chuse to distinguish themselves, is that of King's men, or the Kings friends, by an invidious exclusion of the rest of his Majesty's most loyal and affectionate subjects. a year by the law of the land; and if by the law of Parliament all the debts which exceed it are to be paid previous to the production of any account; I presume that this is equivalent to an income with no other limits than the abilities of the subject and the moderation of the Court; that is to say, it is such an income as is possessed by every absolute Monarch in Europe. Every thing would be drawn from its holdings in the country to the personal favour and inclination of the Prince. They and the world are to be satisfied, that, neither office, nor authority, nor property, nor ability, eloquence, council, skill, or union, are of the least importance; but that the mere influence of the Court, naked of all support, and destitute of all management, is abundantly sufficient for all its own purposes. To have exceeded the sum given for the Civil List, and to have incurred a debt without special authority of Parliament, was, prima facie, a criminal act: as such, Ministers ought naturally rather to have withdrawn it from the inspection, than to have exposed it to the scrutiny, of Parliament. For the meanest and most dependent instrument of this system knows, that there are hours when its existence may depend upon his adherence to it; and he takes his advantage accordingly. It enough for him that he surrounds them with his creatures. 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. So that, if this Reign commenced with a greater charge than usual, there was enough, and more than enough, abundantly to supply all the extraordinary expence. This debt of the Civil List was all along argued upon the same footing as a debt of the State, contracted upon national authority. A restoration of the right of free election is a preliminary indispensable to every other reformation. The people have no interest in disorder. Nothing, indeed, will appear more certain, on any tolerable consideration of this matter, than that every sort of Government ought to have its Administration correspondent to its Legislature. They who can read the political sky will see an hurricane in a cloud no bigger than an hand at the very edge of the horizon, and will run into the first harbour. Pour la populace, ce n'est jamais par envie d'attaquer qu'elle se souleve, mais par impatience de souffrir." Nothing would be more unworthy of this nation, than with a mean and mechanical rule, to mete out the splendour of the Crown. In particular, no persons have been more strong in their assertions, and louder and more indecent in their complaints, than those who compose all the exterior part of the present Administration; in whose time that Faction has arrived at such an height of power, and of boldness in the use of it, as may, in the end, perhaps bring about its total destruction. In such a strait the wisest may well be perplexed, and the boldest staggered. Such a person they endeavour to delude with various pretences. It is not every conjuncture which calls with equal force upon the activity of honest men; but critical exigences now and then arise; and I am mistaken, if this be not one of them. Without them, your Commonwealth is no better than a scheme upon paper; and not a living, acting, effective constitution. Instead of suffering any mark of displeasure, he will be distinguished by an unbounded profusion of Court rewards and caresses; because he does what is expected, and all that is expected, from men in office. The law, for which they stand, may become a weapon in the hands of its bitterest enemies; and they will be cast, at length, into that miserable alternative, between slavery and civil confusion, which no good man can look upon without horror; an alternative in which it is impossible he should take either part, with a conscience perfectly at repose. The extraordinary charges brought on by the rebellion, account fully for the necessities of the Crown. 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. If a fortress is seated in an unwholesome air, an officer of the garrison is obliged to be attentive to his health, but he must not desert his station. If these be radically and essentially vitious, 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. It is indeed in no way wonderful, that such persons should make such declarations. And when we hear any instance of ministerial rapacity, to the prejudice of the rights of private life, it will certainly not be the exaction of two hundred pullets, from a woman of fashion, for leave to lye with her own husband. But it was thought necessary effectually to destroy all dependencies but one; and to shew an example of the firmness and rigour with which the new system was to be supported. Such men were able to draw in a greater number to a concurrence in the common defence. Never has a subject been more amply and more learnedly handled, nor upon one side in my opinion more satisfactorily; they who ate not convinced by what is already written would not receive conviction though one arose from the dead. As I am only giving an opinion on this point, and not at all debating it in an adverse line, I hope I may be excused in another observation. And this is all that ever was required for a character of the greatest uniformity and steadiness in connexion. Has this system provided better for the treatment becoming his high and sacred character, and secured the King from those disgusts attached to the necessity of employing men who are not personally agreeable? But the terrors of the House of Commons are no longer for Ministers. Is Government strengthened? It is not, therefore, to rail at Lord Bute, but firmly to embody against this Court Party and its practices, which can afford us any prospect of relief in our present condition. 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. But when the House of Commons was to be new modelled, this principle was not only to be changed, but reversed. If once Members of Parliament can be practically convinced, that they do not depend on the affection or opinion of the people for their political being; they will give themselves over, without even an appearance of reserve, to the influence of the Court. Even all the use and potency of the laws depends upon them. Try. This, with allowances for human frailty, may probably be the general character of a Ministry, which thinks itself accountable to the House of Commons; when the House of Commons thinks itself accountable to its constituents. None are considered as well-wishers to the Crown, but those who advise 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. Francis Canavan, one of the great Burke scholars of the twentieth century, has added forewords and a … Let us learn from our experience. After this stroke of orderly and Parliamentary wit and humour, they went into the Committee; and very generously voted the payment. A wise Prince will not think that such a restraint implies a condition of servility; and truly, if such was the condition of the last reign, and the effects Were also such as we have described, we ought, no less for the sake of the Sovereign whom we love, than for our own, to hear arguments convincing indeed, before we depart from the maxims of that reign, or fly in the face of this great body of strong and recent experience. They teach him first to distrust, and then to quarrel with his friends; among whom, by the same arts, they excite a similar diffidence of him; so that, in this mutual fear and distrust, he may suffer himself to be employed as the instrument in the change which is brought about. When Ministry rests upon public opinion, it is not indeed built upon a rock of adamant; it has, however, some stability. Many other reasons prevented them from daring to look their true situation in the face. It was their wish, to see public and private virtues, not dissonant and jarring, and mutually destructive, but harmoniously combined, growing out of one another in a noble and orderly gradation, reciprocally supporting and supported. My aim is to bring this matter into more public discussion. Whoever has taken a careful view of public proceedings, so as to endeavour to ground his speculations on his experience, must have observed how prodigiously greater the power of Ministry is in the first and last session of a Parliament, than it is in the intermediate period, when Members sit a little firm on their seats. 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. His revenue was but 700,000l. The reason is evident. The House of Commons can never be a controul on other parts of Government unless they are controuled 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. 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. The evil complained of, if it exists in the present state of things, would hardly be removed by a triennial Parliament: for, unless the influence of Government in elections can be entirely taken away, the more frequently they return, the more they will harrass private independence; the more generally men will be compelled to fly to the settled, systematic interest of Government, and to the resources of a boundless Civil List. But this was neither owing to affectation nor inadvertence. A scheme of perfection to be realized in a Monarchy far beyond the visionary Republick of Plato. Suppose then we were to ask, whether the King has been richer than his predecessors in accumulated wealth, since the establishment of the plan of Favouritism? And coming to the throne in the prime and full vigour of youth, as from affection there was a strong dislike, so from dread there seemed to be a general averseness, from giving any thing like offence to a Monarch, against whose resentment opposition could not look for a refuge in any sort of reversionary hope. Addison, who knew their sentiments, could not praise them for what they considered as no proper subject of commendation. The people, by their representatives and grandees, were intrusted with a deliberative power in making laws; the King with the control of his negative. Never did an envenomed scurrility against every thing sacred and civil, public and private, rage through the kingdom with such a furious and unbridled licence. 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. It were better, perhaps, that they should have a corrupt interest in the forms of the constitution, than that they should have none at all. Those attempts in the House of Lords can no more be called aristocratic proceedings, than the proceedings with regard to the county of Middlesex in the House of Commons can with any sense be called democratical. Those high and haughty sentiments, which are the great support of independence, were to be let down gradually. His revenue for the civil establishment, fixed (as it was then thought) at a large, but definite sum, was ample, without being invidious. They contend, that no adequate provocation has been given for so spreading a discontent; our affairs having been conducted throughout with remarkable temper and consummate wisdom. "Uxor Hugonis de Nevill dat Domino Regi ducentas Gallinas, eo quod possit jacere una nocte cum Domino suo Hugone de Nevill. This reserve of theirs I look upon to be equivalent to the clearest declaration, that they were resolved upon a contrary course. The notorious infidelity and versatility of Members of Parliament in their opinions of men and things ought in a particular manner to be considered by the electors in the enquiry which is recommended to them. Men become pensioners of state on account of their abilities in the array of riot, and the discipline of confusion. There is no danger that an extension of the Forest laws should be the chosen mode of oppression in this age. A systematic spirit has been shewn upon both sides. 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 savour. Accordingly those who have been of the most known devotion to the will and pleasure of a Court, have at the same time been most forward in asserting an high authority in the House of Commons. A popular origin cannot therefore be the characteristics distinction of a popular representative. This is so anomalous to our whole constitution, that I will venture to say, the most trivial right which the subject claims, never was, nor can be, forfeited in such a manner. Does not the publick 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? 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 characterizes the general infirmity of human nature, from those which are symptoms of the particular distemperature of our own air and season. No_Favorite. It amounts, as a person of great ability said in the debate, to an unlimited power of drawing upon the Sinking Fund. Many a stern republican, after gorging himself with a full feast of admiration of the Grecian commonwealths and of our true Saxon constitution, and discharging all the splendid bile of his virtuous indignation on King John and King James, sits down perfectly satisfied to the coarsest work and homeliest job of the day he lives in. In Parliament the whole is executed from the beginning to the end. Thus the controul of Parliament upon the executory power is lost; because Parliament is made to partake in every considerable act of Government. He will therefore excuse my adding something more, towards the further clearing up a point, which the great convenience of obscurity to dishonesty has been able to cover with some degree of darkness and doubt. This remonstrance the French Minister treated with the contempt that was natural; as he was assured, from the Ambassador of his Court to ours, that these orders of Lord Shelburne were not supported by the rest of the (I had like to have said British) Administration. 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. In the House, he votes for ever in a dispirited minority. Whatever efficacy there may be in those remedies, I am sure in the present state of things it is impossible to apply them. But while the Ministers of the day appear in all the pomp and pride of power, while they have all their canvas spread out to the wind, and every sail filled with the fair and prosperous gale of Royal favour, in a short time they find, they know not how, a current, which sets directly against them; which prevents all progress; and even drives them backwards. I should have thought indeed that a Ministerial promise, during their own continuance in office, might have been given, though this would have been but a poor security for the publick. Therefore, when the chiefs were removed, in order to go to the root, the whole party was put under a proscription, so general and severe as to take their hard-earned bread from the lowest officers, in a manner which had never been known before, even in general revolutions. He can get pardons for offences. The power of discretionary disqualification by one law of Parliament, and the necessity of paying every debt of the Civil List by another law of Parliament, if suffered to pass unnoticed, must establish such a fund of rewards and terrors as will make Parliament the best appendage and support of arbitrary power that ever was invented by the wit of man. Although Government was strong and flourished exceedingly, the Court had drawn far less advantage than one would imagine from this great source of power. He can do an infinite number of acts of generosity and kindness, and even of public spirit. But the contrivers of this scheme of Government will not trust solely to the military power; because they are cunning men. But it is a principle pregnant with all sorts of mischief, in a constitution like ours, to turn the views of active men from the country to the Court. Graphic Violence ; Graphic Sexual Content ; texts. It is not more the duty than it is the interest of a Prince, to aim at giving tranquillity to his Government. 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. It may appear somewhat affected, that in so much discourse upon this extraordinary Party, I should say so little of the Earl of Bute, who is the supposed head of it. Whenever they dissent (as it often happens) from their nominal leaders, the trained part of the Senate, instinctively in the secret, is sure to follow them; provided the leaders, sensible of their situation, do not of themselves recede in time from their most declared opinions. He helps to keep some form of Administration in being, and keeps it at the same time as weak and divided as possible. Certain it is, the best patriots in the greatest commonwealths have always commended and promoted such connexions. In removing it from a dangerous leaning towards one side, there may be a risque of oversetting it on the other. In the former case, only the few are affected; in the latter, only the inconsiderable. They are despoiled of all the power which might enable them to reconcile the strength of Government with the rights of the people. Whatever original energy may be supposed either in force or regulation; the operation of both is, in truth, merely instrumental. Even the holding of offices together, the disposition of which arose from chance not selection, gave rise to a relation, which continued for life. The arguments upon which this claim was founded and combated, are not my business litre. 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. "—Cicero, Against Verres, second pleading, I, 39, translated by Charles Duke Yonge (1903). When I see in any of these detached gentlemen of our times the angelic purity, power, and beneficence, I shall admit them to be angels. Some legislators went so far as to make neutrality in party a crime against the State. They ought not to trust the House of Commons with a power over their franchises: because the constitution, which placed two other coordinate powers to controul it, reposed no such confidence in that body. 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. 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. There is something very courtly in this. 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. There is an opinion universal, that these revenues produce something not inconsiderable, clear of all charges and establishments. The power of the people, within the laws, must shew itself sufficient to protect every representative in the animated performance of his duty, or that duty cannot be performed. If he has not the talent of elocution, which is the case of many as wise and knowing men as any in the House, he is liable to all these inconveniencies, without the eclat which attends upon any tolerably successful exertion of eloquence. When the House of Commons, in an endeavour to obtain new advantages at the expence of the other orders of the State, for the benefit of the Commons at large, have pursued strong measures; if it were not just, it was at least natural, that the constituents should connive at all their proceedings; because we were ourselves ultimately to profit. But the throne of no Prince has stood upon more unshaken foundations than that of his present Majesty. In the mean time, the voice of law is not to be heard. But whether it was for want of firmness to bear up against the first opposition; or that things were not yet fully ripened, or that this method was not found the most eligible; that idea was soon abandoned. 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. They are a matter incapable of exact definition. The civil power, like every other that calls in the aid of an ally stronger than itself, perishes by the assistance it receives. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Francis Canavan, one of the great Burke scholars of the twentieth century, has added forewords and a biographical note on Payne. The dreadful disorders of frequent elections have also necessitated a septennial instead of a triennial duration. To cultivate friendships, and to incur enmities. In order to facilitate the execution of their design, it was necessary to make many alterations in political arrangement, and a signal change in the opinions, habits, and connexions of the greatest part of those who at that time acted in publick. But the party now in question is formed upon a very different idea. 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. A people emulous as we are in affection to our present Sovereign, know not how to form a prayer to Heaven for a greater blessing upon his virtues, or an higher state, of felicity and glory, than that he should live, and should reign, and, when Providence ordains it, should die, exactly like his illustrious Predecessor. However, some circumstances, arising, it must be confessed, in a great degree from accident, prevented the effects of this influence for a long time from breaking out in a manner capable of exciting any serious apprehensions. 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. Both the Law and the Magistrate are the creatures of Will. 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. Men will see the necessity of honest combination; but they may see it when it is too late. 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. Their hands are tied behind them. But, in order firmly to establish the precedent of payment previous to account, and to form it into a settled rule of the House, the god in the machine was brought down, nothing less than the wonder-working Law of Parliament. If, by any chance, the Ministers who stand before the curtain possess or affect any spirit, it makes little or no impression. This project, I have heard, was first conceived by some persons in the court of Frederick Prince of Wales. If the use of this power of controul on the system and persons of Administration is gone, every thing is lost, Parliament and all. See what's new with book lending at the Internet Archive. For a considerable time this separation of the representatives from their constituents went on with a silent progress; and had those, who conducted the plan for their total separation, been persons of temper and abilities any way equal to the magnitude of their design, the success would have been infallible: but by their precipitancy they have laid it open in all its nakedness; the nation is alarmed at it; and the event may not be pleasant to the contrivers of the scheme. Can we conceive a more discouraging post of duty than this? He may, while he betrays every valuable interest of the kingdom, be a benefactor, a patron, a father, a guardian angel, to his borough. These compose the inventory of prosperous circumstances, whether they regard a Prince or a subject; their enjoyments differing only in the scale upon which they are formed. This decree was solemnly promulgated by the head of the Court corps, the Earl of Bute himself, in a speech which he made, in the year 1766, against the then Administration, the only Administration which he has ever been known directly and publicly to oppose. 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. In this case, therefore, it was not the man that was to be punished, nor his faults that were to be discountenanced. Nothing can render this a point of indifference to the nation, but what must either render us totally desperate, or soothe us into the security of ideots. An illustration of a magnifying glass. Constitute Government how you please, infinitely the greater part of it must depend upon the exercise of the powers which are left at large to the prudence and uprightness of Ministers of State. Thus much of the topicks chosen by the Courtiers to recommend their system; it will be necessary to open a little more at large the nature of that party which was formed for its support. Nobody, I believe, will consider it merely as the language of spleen or disappointment, if I say, that there is something particularly alarming in the present conjuncture. Upload. 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. Fast and free shipping free returns cash on … Gentlemen, warm in a popular cause, are ready enough to attribute all the declarations of such persons to corrupt motives. Select Works of Edmund Burke. Significant quotes in Edmund Burke's Thoughts On The Cause Of The Present Discontents with explanations The Romans carried this principle a great way. That Prince reigned fourteen years afterwards: not only no new demands were made; but with so much good order were his revenues and expenses regulated, that, although many parts of the establishment of the Court were upon a larger and more liberal scale than they have been since, there was a considerable sum in hand, on his decease, amounting to about 170,000l. The question, on the influence of a Court, and of a Peerage, is not, which of the two dangers is the most eligible, but which is the most imminent. Nothing indeed can hinder that severe letter from crushing us, except the temperaments it may receive from a trial by jury. It is the business of the speculative philosopher to mark the proper ends of Government. This was however suffered, by the acquiescence of the whole kingdom, for ages; because the evasion of the old statute of Westminster, which authorised perpetuities, had more sense and utility than the law which was evaded. But this, even at first view, is no more than a negative advantage; an armour merely defensive. Our office correspondence has lost all pretence to authenticity; British policy is brought into derision in those nations, that a while ago trembled at the power of our arms, whilst they looked up with confidence to the equity, firmness, and candour, which shone in all our negotiations. The virtue, spirit, and essence of a House of Commons consists in its being the express image of the feelings of the nation. Thoughts on the cause of the present discontents by: Burke, Edmund, 1729-1797. They will be able to serve their King with dignity; because they will never abuse his name to the gratification of their private spleen or avarice. When, therefore, the abettors of the new system tell us, that between them and their opposers there is nothing but a struggle for power, and that therefore we are no-ways concerned in it; we must tell those who have the impudence to insult us in this manner, that of all things we ought to be the most concerned, who and what sort of men they are, that hold the trust of every thing that is dear to us. In one of the most fortunate periods of our history this country was governed by a connexion; I mean, the great connexion of Whigs in the reign of Q. Anne. They were complimented upon the principle of this connexion by a poet who was in high esteem with them. This latter is generally the case. It is formed on a supposition that the King is something external to his government; and that he may be honoured and aggrandized, even by its debility and disgrace. Without being as unreasonably doubtful as many are unwisely confident, I will only say, that this also is a matter very well worthy of serious and mature reflexion. 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. The popular torrent gains upon it every hour. Skip to main content.sg. Of this stamp is the cant of Not men, but measures; a sort of charm, by which many people get loose from every ho nourable engagement. Nations are not primarily ruled by laws; less by violence. 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. Nor are we engaged in unsuccessful war; in which, our misfortunes might easily pervert our judgement; and our minds, sore from the loss of national glory, might feel every blow of Fortune as a crime in Government. Those were rather different from today’s. They are convinced, by sufficient experience, that no plan, either of lenity or rigour, can be pursued with uniformity and perseverance. How men can proceed without any connexion at all, is to me utterly incomprehensible. Underhand and oblique ways would be studied. We are very uncorrupt and tolerably enlightened judges of the transactions of past ages; where no passions deceive, and where the whole train of circumstances, from the trifling cause to the tragical event, is set in an orderly series before us. Their restless and crooked spirit drives them to rake in the dirt of every kind of expedient. If the King should put his affairs into the hands of any one of them, he is sure to disgust the rest; if he select particular men from among them all, it is an hazard that he disgusts them all. As a powerful party, and a party constructed on a new principle, it is a very inviting object of curiosity. Fourth in descent, and third in succession of his Royal family, even the zealots of hereditary right, in him, saw something to flatter their favourite prejudices; and to justify a transfer of their attachments, without a change in their principles. This is not a thing to be trifled with; nor is it every well-meaning man, that is fit to put his hands to it. However they may hire out the usufruct of their voices, they never will part with the fee and inheritance. 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 judgement; 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. With such an arrangement at Court, it is impossible it should have been otherwise. But a great official, a great professional, a great military and naval interest, all necessarily comprehending many people of the first weight, ability, wealth, and spirit, has been gradually formed in the kingdom. 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. However, we must take care not to be mistaken, or to imagine that such persons have any weight in their Opposition. To put their hands upon such articles of expenditure as they thought improper or excessive, and to secure, in future, against such misapplication or exceeding? One mob is hired to destroy another; a procedure which at once encourages the boldness of the populace, and justly increases their discontent. If he had fallen in a common slaughter of libellers and blasphemers, I could well believe that nothing more was meant than was pretended. They conclude, not unwisely, that such rotten members will become the first objects of disgust and resentment to their antient connexions. But if the habit prevails 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. Every thing partakes of the original disorder. 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. A great deal of the furniture of ancient tyranny is worn to rags; the rest is entirely out of fashion. There are but very few, who are capable of comparing and digesting what passes before their eyes at different times and occasions, so as to form the whole into a distinct system. They are obliged either to execute the orders of their inferiors, or to see themselves opposed by the natural instruments of their office. In speaking of this body, I have my eye chiefly on the House of Commons. He overcame a dangerous rebellion, abetted by foreign force, and raging in the heart of his kingdoms; and thereby destroyed the feeds of all future rebellion that could arise upon the same principle. When they have learned this lesson themselves, they will be willing and able to teach the Court, that it is the true interest of the Prince to have but one Administration; and that one composed of those who recommend themselves to their Sovereign through the opinion of their country, and not by their obsequiousness to a favourite. This is unquestionably true. All this however is submitted to, in order to avoid that monstrous evil of governing in concurrence with the opinion of the people. The electors ought to esteem it no less culpable in their Member to give a single vote in Parliament to such an Administration, than to take an office under it; to endure it, than to act in it. He will, however, continue in his employment. That Connexion and Faction are equivalent, terms, is an opinion which has been carefully inculcated at all times by unconstitutional Statesmen. But as so much stress was then laid on the necessity of this new project, it will not be amiss to take a view of the effects of this Royal servitude and vile durance, which was so deplored in the reign of the late Monarch, and was so carefully to be avoided in the reign of his Successor. 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. 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 publick, that they will not abuse those trusts. Formerly this power of controul was what kept Ministers in awe of Parliaments, and Parliaments in reverence with the people. But still, as the greater part of the measures which arise in the course of public business are related to, or dependent on, some great leading general principles in Government, a man must be peculiarly unfortunate in the choice of his political company if he does not agree with them at least nine times in ten. Whereas, when they lie dispersed, without concert, order, or discipline, communication is uncertain, counsel difficult, and resistance impracticable. Cart Hello Select your address Best Sellers Today's Deals Electronics Customer … 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. Never may we become plus sages que les sages, as the French comedian has happily expressed it, wiser than all the wise and good men who have lived before us. We are in the great crisis of this contention and the part which men take one way or other, will serve to discriminate their characters and their principles.
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