« ElőzőTovább »
the novelty of a young prince, whose countenance promised even more than his words; and loyal to you, not only from principle, but passion. It was not a cold profession of allegiance to the first magistrate, but a partial, animated attachment to a favourite prince, the native of their country. They did not wait to examine your conduct, nor to be determined by experience; but gave you a generous credit for the future blessings of your reign, and paid you in advance the dearest tribute of their affections. Such, sir, was once the disposition of a people, who now surround your throne with reproaches and complaints. Do justice to yourself. Banish from your mind those unworthy opinions, with which some interested persons have laboured to possess you. Distrust the men, who tell you that the English are naturally light and inconstant; that they complain without a cause. Withdraw your confidence equally from all parties; from ministers, favourites, and relations; and let there be one moment in your life, in which you have consulted your own understanding.
When you affectedly renounced the name of Englishman, believe me, sir, you were persuaded to pay a very ill-judged compliment to one part of your subjects, at the expence of another. While the natives of Scotland are not in actual rebellion, they are undoubtedly entitled to protection; nor do I mean to condemn the policy of giving some encouragement to the novelty of their affections for the house of Hanover. I am ready to hope for every thing from their new-born zeal, and from the future steadiness of their allegiance. But, hitherto, they have no claim to your favour. To honour them with a determined predilection and confidence, in exclusion of your English subjects, who placed your family, and in spite of treachery and rebellion, have supported it upon the throne, is a mistake too gross, even
for the unsuspecting generosity of youth. In this error we see a capital violation of the most obvious rules of policy and prudence. We trace it, however, to an original bias in your education, and are ready to allow for your inexperience.
To the same early influence we attribute it, that you have descended to take a share, not only in the narrow views and interests of particular persons, but in the fatal malignity of their passions. At your accession to the throne, the whole system of government was altered, not from wisdom or deliberation, but because it had been adopted by your predecessor. A little personal motive of pique and resentment was sufficient to remove the ablest servants of the crown *; but it is not in this country, sir, that such men can be dishonoured by the frowns of a king. They were dismissed, but could not be disgraced. Without entering into a minuter discussion of the merits of the peace, we may observe, in the imprudent hurry with which the first overtures from France were accepted, in the conduct of the negociation and terms of the treaty, the strongest marks of that precipitate spirit of concession, with which a certain part of your subjects have been at all times ready to purchase a peace with the natural enemies of this country. On your part we are satisfied that every thing was honourable and sincere; and, if England was sold to France, we doubt not that your majesty was equally betrayed. The conditions of the peace were matter of grief and surprise to your subjects, but not the immediate cause of their present discontent.
Hitherto, sir, you had been sacrificed to the preju
* One of the first acts of the present reign was to dismiss Mr. Legge, because he had, some years before, refused to yield his interest in Hampshire to a Scotchman recommended by Lord Bute. This was the reason publicly assigned by his lordship.
dices and passions of others. With what firmness will you bear the mention of your own?
A man, not very honourably distinguished in the world, commences a formal attack upon your favourite, considering nothing but how he might best expose his person and principles to detestation, and the national character of his countrymen to contempt. The natives of that country, sir, are as much distinguished by a peculiar character, as by your majesty's favour. Like another chosen people, they have been conducted into the land of plenty, where they find themselves effectually marked and divided from mankind. There is hardly a period at which the most irregular character may not be redeemed. The mistakes of one sex find a retreat in patriotism, those of the other in devotion. Mr. Wilkes brought with him into politics the same liberal sentiments by which his private conduct had been directed; and seemed to think, that, as there are few excesses in which an English gentleman may not be permitted to indulge, the same latitude was allowed him in the choice of his political principles, and in the spirit of maintaining them. I mean to state, not entirely to defend his conduct. In the earnestness of his zeal, he suffered some unwarrantable insinuations to escape him. He said more than moderate men could justify; but not enough to entitle him to the honour of your majesty's personal resentment. The rays of royal indignation, collected upon him, served only to illuminate, and could not consume. Animated by the favour of the people on one side, and heated by persecution on the other, his views and sentiments changed with his situation. Hardly serious at first, he is now an enthusiast. The coldest bodies warm with opposition, the hardest sparkle in collision. There is a holy mistaken zeal in politics, as well as religion, By persuading
others, we convince ourselves. The passions are engaged, and create a maternal affection in the mind, which forces us to love the cause for which we suffer. Is this a contention worthy of a king? Are you not sensible how much the meanness of the cause gives an air of ridicule to the serious difficulties into which you have been betrayed? The destruction of one man has been now, for many years, the sole object of your government; and, if there can be any thing still more disgraceful, we have seen, for such an object, the utmost influence of the executive power, and every ministerial artifice, exerted without success. Nor can you ever succeed, unless he should be imprudent enough to forfeit the protection of those laws to which you owe your crown, or unless your ministers should persuade you to make it a question of force alone, and try the whole strength of government in opposition to the people. The lessons he has received from experience will probably guard him from such excess of folly; and in your majesty's virtues we find an unquestionable assurance, that no illegal violence will be attempted.
Far from suspecting you of so horrible a design, we would attribute the continued violation of the laws, and even this last enormous attack upon the vital principles of the constitution, to an ill-advised, unworthy, personal resentment. From one false step you have been betrayed into another; and, as the cause was unworthy of you, your ministers were determined, that the prudence of the execution should correspond with the wisdom and dignity of the design. They have reduced you to the necessity of choosing out of a variety of difficulties; to a situation so unhappy, that you can neither do wrong without ruin, nor right without affliction. These worthy servants have undoubtedly given you many singular proofs of their abilities. Not contented with making
Mr. Wilkes a man of importance, they have judiciously transferred the question from the rights and interests of one man, to the most important rights and interests of the people; and forced your subjects, from wishing well to the cause of an individual, to unite with him in their own. Let them proceed as they have begun, and your majesty need not doubt that the catastrophe will do no dishonour to the conduct of the piece.
The circumstances to which you are reduced, will not admit of a compromise with the English nation. Undecisive, qualifying measures will disgrace your government still more than open violence, and, without satisfying the people, will excite their contempt. They have too much understanding and spirit to accept of an indirect satisfaction for a direct injury. Nothing less than a repeal, as formal as the resolution itself, can heal the wound which has been given to the constitution, nor will any thing less be accepted. I can readily believe, that there is an influence sufficient to recall that pernicious vote. The House of Commons undoubtedly consider their duty to the crown as paramount to all other obli gations. To us they are only indebted for an accidental existence, and have justly transferred their gratitude from their parents to their benefactors; from those who gave them birth, to the minister, from whose benevolence they derive the comforts and pleasures of their political life, who has taken the tenderest care of their infancy, and relieves their necessities without offending their delicacy. But, if it were possible for their integrity to be degraded to a condition so vile and abject, that, compared with it, the present estimation they stand in is a state of honour and respect, consider, sir, in what manner you will afterwards proceed. Can you conceive that the people of this country will long submit to be governed by so flexible a House of Commons? It is not