Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

significance, or the negligence of government, had first been plantcd; a spirit which they had continued to cherish with the enthu-, siasm of sectaries, and with all that prejudice which attaches to a gift transmitted from our ancestors.'

Our author pointedly condemns the fatal policy which led the British government into the war with America; and he, thus spiritedly depicts the leading characters of the adminiftration which conducted this unhappy contest:

• The reins of government were still oftenfibly guided by the feeble hand of lord North, a man not destitute of ability, but of that negative character which was incapable of any great or virtuous exertion. By the humble track of progression and feniority, he had pafled through tlie inferior departments of office, and, on the feceffion of the duke of Grafton, had found himself, as if by chance, in the situation of minister. The ductility of disposition which had first marked him out as the pallive instrument of an invisible faction, continued him in office. Under him the dispute with America had commenced, though he had more than once professed that the war was not his, and that it had been engaged in contrary to his wishes or advice. Those who were not conversant with the man, and who did not know the maxims by which he governed himself, will scarcely believe that such meanness and inconsistency could exist in any person, even of mcderate abilities. But lord North was educated from infancy in the school of corruption. Naturally of an easy and pliant temper, that difpofition was increased by the maxims he had imbibed. With him the ininifters were not the servants of the state, but of the crown, whose orders they had only to execute. The general good was not to be considered, and the means by which the mandatis of the executive power were to be accomplished, were justified by the end. Thus, had he been poflefled of a great understanding, and capable of extensive views, his principles must have militated against then : but he was not. He was rather a man of wit, than of consummate ability ; ready and adroit, rather than wise and sagacious. He leidom looked beyond the moment; and considered the faculty of parrying with. dexterity the strokes which were aimed at him in the house of com: mons, as the first qualification of a minister. Under liim corruption and venality are said to have been carried to a greater excess than under any former minifier; and what in the hands of Walpdie was a casual expedient for the promotion of a particular measure, under his administration was reduced to a regular system of peólidn and contract.

In delineating the principles of lord North, those of the Ameti. can secretary have been almost depicted. They were both educated in the fame school, and the faine deprived notions of governe ment were profeiled by both. Lord George Germaine wa, not a C: R. N. ARR. (XI.) July, 1994,

maa!

man of great talents : he had less wit than lord North, but perhaps more judgement, and certainly more industry. His panegyrist has said of him, that he appeared to be born to contend with misfortune, fince, from his first political outset at the battle of Minden, fcarcely any one project in which he engaged, was known to profper. This, however, is at best but a poor extenuation; since, through prosperity does not necessarily attach to wisdom or merit, and though all men are liable to the casual assaults of ill fortune and adversity, where a general failure in every undertaking is known to attend the whole progress of a life, there is room to fuspect at least a defect in the head or in the heart.

Of the noble lord who presided over the naval department, the best panegyric would be total silence. Future historians will do justice to his moral character; nor can they want materials, while So many facts remain upon record for its illustration, and while the annais of the Old Bailey serve to convey to posterity the affecting narrative of Hackman and Miss Ray. In so barren a wilderness, it would be happy if the prospect was enlivened by the appearance of one solitary virtue ; but he was as destitute of feeling as of principle. Amidst the copious crop of vices which overshadowed his whole character, not even that of cowardice was wanting, to move our contempt as well as our detestation; and strange it is, that though his sentiments with respect to all religion, natural and revealed, are well known, yet so timid was his nature, that, contrary to all his convictions, he could scarcely bear to be left alone. With such a general character, we cannot wonder if in political life he was the decided enemy of his country, and the devoted instrument of a cor. rupt cabinet. His name, indeed, was never mentioned without exciting sentiments of contempt; and the mock appellation of Jemmy Twitcher, which was applied to him from the well-known drama of the Beggars Opera, was intended to convey a censure on his political life, of the most degrading kind. If nature had endowed him with talents, the course of diflipation in which he was engaged, must have disqualified him for the exercise of them; but, from our personal knowledge, we can state that he had them not. He poflefed an active, but not a strong mind. Practised in the intrigues of courts, and in the debates of parliament, he could speak and reply with some facility; but his ideas never took an extensive range: the details of office, and the petty maxims of court management and intrigue, generally furnished the great outline of his eloquente. * In the preceding winter, in consequence of the desertion of earl Qower, who had been president of the council, administration had received some accession of ability by the promotion of Mr. Thur. low, from the oflice of attorney-general, to that of lord chancellor, in the room of cari Bathurst, who was removed to the situation which cari Gower had just relinquilhed. While the general opinion

attributes the possession of talents to lord Thurlow, the interests of truth demand that the proposition should be received with confiderable qualification. The single circumstance of rising from a mean and obscure origin, to a splendid situation, is apt to impress the multitude with the opinion, that the most brilliant abilities, and the moft distinguished qualities, are essential to such a progress: but, in the routine of courts, elevation is more frequently the consequence of fortuitous events, or of fortunate connexions, of servile habits, and a pliant conscience, than of merit and ability

• If we examine the parliamentary efforts of lord Thurlow, we Thall find in them little that indicates the man of genius, or the possessor of an enlarged and enlightened understanding. In them, no abstract sentiment, no pointed reflexion, no witticism, no metaphor distinguished for ingenuity, is to be found. Of the deficiency of his education, and the meanness of his early habits and connexions, the vulgarity of his language and the triteness of his sentiments are sufficient indications. Incapable of elevating his mind to any great or novel conception, he has ever been the avowed advocate of every vulgar prejudice, of every ancient corruption. Unacquainted with all other science, he has even been charged with inattention to some of those branches immediately connected with his own profession; and his early habits having been formed in the obfcure and mechanical drudgery of a mean occupation, a coarseness of manners has accompanied him through life. Conscious, perhaps, that the diftinguishing feature in his character is servility, and that to this quality he was chiefly indebted for his advancement, he was defirous of concealing that submission which he practised towards his superiors, by the exercise of infolence and arrogance to all whom fortune had placed in a subordinate station. Like all uneducated persons, he could sometimes join, even to excess, in the praise of bim, whom the public voice had extolled; but he was incapable of diftinguishing for himself. In the distribution of preferments, he has made a few sacrifices to popularity ; but in these his ignorance has betrayed him into error. He has mistaken pompofity for learning, confidence for genius, and sophistry for argument.

• As a public speaker, he has been chiefly distinguished by three qualities-invincible assurance, inflexible obstinacy, and a talent for quibble. Yet these were valuable accessions to this miserable administration; and, as alınost the whole of their arrangements conlisted in a series of little artifices to keep up the dclusion of the people, and in the distribution of the rewards of corruption, perhaps such were the only talents which could then lend them effe&tual aslistance.

• The other members of administration were the mere drudges of office, or the meck pageants of aristocracy, whose weakness and inactivity equally exempted them from responsibility and ceplure.' The events of the American war are clearly and luminoully

T 2

detailed.

detailed. The following are the author's sentiments on the famous armed neutrality:

• It is a remarkable fact, and yet none remains fo completely. uncontradicted by the evidence of history, that the British nation never ; yet was known to extend any peculiar favour to the despots of the continent, without having occasion presently to deplore and repent of their folly. Have we expended our treasure, loaded our people with taxes, destroyed our commerce and manufactures on any occasion, to recover or to win a tract of territory for these ungrateful tyrants—and what has uniformly been our reward ?--A declaration of war, as soon as it suited their purpose to form a new alliance; or the undermining of our political interests, by the most insidious intrigues. From the two powers which had been most particularly favoured by this country, originated, in the course of this year, the. most injurious system of treachery that ever was planned in the ca. binets of princes from Prussia, whose territories had been twice: rescued from the rapacious house of Austria, by the interposition of Eritain ; and from Rullia, whose whole naval power, and much of whose political consequence, was entirely produced by our injudicious partiality. It will be eafily perceived that we allude to the celebrated armed neutrality, which in the early part of this year was publicly propofid by the empress of Russia, and acceded to by almost all the different courts of Europe; a measure intended to ruin, for ever, the trade of England, by diverting it into other channels; to annihilate all the boalicd privileges of the British flag; and which was only wanting, to complete the humiliation of the country une der the disgraceful administration of North and Sandwich. .

ó The basis of the Rullian manifefto, on which the armed neue trality was founded, was the proposition, “ that free bottoms make tree goods." In consequence of this, the empress claimed for all the neutral powers, a full right to supply the powers at war with every necciary commodity, and even with military stores; the principle was even carried 10 far as to aiiert, thar the neutral bottom has a right to convey, even coaftwile, and to render free every fpecies of goods and mercitandize from one part of a belligerent date to another; and the manifesto invited the neutral states of Europe to form a combination, and to establish a powerful mari. time force to compel obedience to the principles and objects of the league. . • Upon enlarged and liberal principles of general policy, the pros · position that neutral nations have a right to convey commodities, without impediment, from one belligerent, state to another, ought Certainly to be admitted ; and thole nations which are weak, or unfortunate enough to involve themselves in war, ought to abide by the confequences. But the starting of such a principle at the pre(cat crisis, and in contradiction to all foriner practice, could only

be

be considered as an insidious attempt to take advantage of the ruinous state to which unwise counsels had reduced Great Britain; to deprive her of the only chance of success which remained to her, that of distressing her enemies by her naval superiority; and in the end, to annihilate her commerce, by diverting its course into foreign channels.

The following is a short and spirited abstract of our present minister's second parliamentary effort:

On this latter occasion Mr. William Pitt again distinguished himself. He expatiated on the cruelty and wickedness of the Ame. rican war. It was, he said, conceived in injustice, nurtured in a fally ; its footsteps were marked with blood and devastation. Every thing that constituted moral depravity and human turpitude were to be found in it. It was pregnant with mischief of every kind. While it meditated the destruction of the unhappy people who were the objects of that black resentment which produced it; the mischief recoiled upon the unhappy and deluded people of this country, who were made the instruments to effect the wicked purposes of its authors. The nation was drained of its vital resources of men and money. The expence was enormous, while our victories were indecisive, and our defeats were fatal : victories celebrated only with temporary triumph over our brethren, struggling in the holy cause of liberty; and defeats which filled the land with mourning for the best blood of the nation, shed in the impious cause.

Mr. Burke, who at the period in question, 1782, was an active opponent of government, exposed some very singular impositions on the public:

The motion was not iefs abiy supported by Mr. Burke. He said, that it was blasphemy to ascribe io Providence the blunders of a weak and wicked administration; whom he very succefstully charged, not only with folly and incapacity, but with the most corrupt and criminal profusion of the public money. The support of the finall garrison in Gibraltar, cost the public the annual sum of 600,cool. a sum equal to the whole revenue of the king of Sardinia. For the fingle legion of colonel Tarleton, which could not be numerous, Meflis. Muir and Atkinson had sent out oats for one year's confumption, to the amount of 80,000l. though these respectable contractors did not pay above 36,000l. prime cost, for an article on

which they made this enormous charge. All the charges were in · proportion: for the mere provisions for only 40,000 men were charg

ed to the public, at the incredible sum of 1,200,000l. Among wher items in one year's expences, he found the charge of 57,000l. for presents to the Indians. He was of opinion that these favagęs set rather too high a value on their labours, since it appeared, that for this immense fum they had only massacred twenty-five women ana

childien.

T3

« AnteriorContinuar »