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McCormick brings no proof from Burke's words or actions, that he was envious of Sheridan. Unsupported by proof, and contrary to probability, this injurious charge against the character of a most extraordinary personage falls to the ground :—it is a charge that the liberal and great mind of Sheridan himself could not believe to be well founded. Since I wrote the first edition, I have been informed that Mr. Burke by no means liked Mr. Sheridan so much as he esteemed his genius. He thought, during the last years of his connection with him. and Mr. Fox, that Mr. Sheridan had too much influence over his admired friend; this dislike, however, had, or could have in it nothing of envy.
The commercial treaty with France first occupied Parliament during the succeeding session. This treaty, believed to be the result of the extensive information of Hawkesbury, the acuteness and diplomatic knowledge of Eden, ministering to the comprehensive genius of Pitt, was considered in
two relations,-commercial and political. As to its mercantile arrangements, it was the triumph of commercial philosophy over usage, and of a general over partial interest. It was a practical application of the principles and demonstrations of Smith concerning the reciprocal advantages, to skilful and industrious nations, of a free trade. The discussions of the treaty, both in the House of Peers and Commons, called forward the most important subjects of œconomical science. Its political object was liberal and great, it was to terminate the animosities. between Britain and France, that had been productive of so great evils to both. Whether it was or was not attainable, it is now impossible to ascertain, as the circumstances are so totally changed. It was to its political tendency that the principal opposition was made. Fox endeavoured to shew, that France still continued her plans of ambition, although she varied her modes of execution. While amusing us, he said, with commercial connections, she was, by the increase of her marine, and her intrigues with foreign states,
preparing for political annoyance. This ground was also taken by Burke. He had, at the commencement of the American war, and on every other occasion, endeavoured to impress on the house and nation the aspiring > views of France,-that the supremacy over Europe and its dependencies was the object; that Britain was the most formidable opponent to her aggrandizement; that the humiliation of Britain was considered as the necessary, and, indeed, only means of certainly accomplishing her 'ends; that the animosity of rivalship inspirited the operations of ambition; that the mutual action and re-action of these principles had, on every opportunity, manifested themselves. The doctrine he held before, the doctrine he held then, the doctrine he held since, the doctrine he held always, was the sameTrust no friendly protestations from France:
-France hates Britain; France would subject Britain; FRANCE HAS THE WILL TO CONQUER BRITAIN, BUT WANTS THE POWER. LET US GUARD AGAINST INCREASING HER POWER AND INFLUENCE, THROUGH SUPINE
NESS OR CREDULITY, WHOSE INTENTIONS ARE SO MALIGNANT. A few months afforded a striking instance, that while her professions were friendly, her intentions were hostile; that she was employing every effort of policy to detach from us our natural ally; and was preparing to second her intrigues by force, when the vigour of the British cabinet and the activity of Prussian troops defeated her machinations.
In Mr. Pitt's motion for the consolidation of the Customs Opposition unanimously acquiesced, and Burke betowed on it very high praise,
March 28, 1787, a motion was made for repealing the Test-Act. Although Burke had been, in 1772, favourable to a similar motion in behalf of the Dissenters (though a motion not altogether to the same extent). he did not support the repeal. His detractors charged him with inconsistency for
He withdrew from the house without voting.
this conduct.* But if we examine the real circumstances of the case, we shall find no inconsistency in the support at one time, disapprobation at another; and that both were guided by liberal and sound policy. Indulgence to a part was wise and benevolent, when not interfering with the good of the whole. In 1772, there were among the Dissenters no known principles inimical to our establishment. Before 1787, principles unfavourable to the constitution of our state had been published by their leading men, and had been reprobated, as was before shewn, by Burke; not only principles, but designs hostile to our church establishment had been avowed by a most distinguished person among them. They were,' Dr. Priestley informed the public, in a pamphlet, wisely placing, as it were, grain by grain, a train of gunpowder, to which the match would one day be laid to blow up the fabric of error, which could never be again raised
In the Monthly Review for October, 1798, there is a letter to me on this subject; my answer is in the Anti-Jacobin for November, 1798. R. B.