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Mr. Smelt, in the Preface to this pamphlet, informs the public, that he was obliged to publish his fpeech at the earnest defire of his friends, and in felf-defence; as in the various publications lately attributed to him, neither the manner of expreffing his fentiments, the order in which they were delivered, nor the application of them was properly obferved. He tells us, he would be glad if he could impute this to the deceitfulness of memory or the inaccuracy of notes only. It has indeed been hinted by many that this is not a real copy of his fpeech as delivered at York: but he himself declares, that it is impoffible he should so foon have forgot the fentiments he then fpoke, as they have long held a fixed place in his mind; but he will not afcribe to his memory any particular degree of exactness with refpect to words. From this gentleman's well known, amiable and refpectable character, which even his political opponents allow him to have, we can entertain no doubt of the truth of this affertion. For the fame reason, we fincerely believe that whatever he spoke, were the real fentiments of his own heart, and not the fentiments of others, as has been malicioufty hinted in fome of the daily prints. Thus far we can fay from our own knowledge, that the various fpeeches afcribed to Mr. Smelt are not at all like the one before us. It is a thing every man of feeling muft lament, that party rage fo far blinds the moft fenfible men as to make them endeavour to hold up to public deteftation men of the moft amiable characters, merely by mifrepresenting their words and actions.
Where he fays, "It is a falfe opinion, that the King is the fervant of the public; he is the foul of the conftitution," feems to be the fentence at which gentlemen of oppofite principles have chiefly taken umbrage. How far this doctrine may be right we will not pretend to fay; as this is not a proper place for political controverfy. Every man, however, who, in thefe times and upon important occafions, stands boldly forth and delivers his fentiments freely upon great national fubjects, though he may perhaps widely differ from the generality of people, is ftill very juftifiable, and fhews fuch a degree of refolution and conftancy, as will at laft (by the bleffing of Providence) conquer all our enemies. The ftyle and manner of this fpeech are manly and animated; the language is for the most part elegant; and the whole compofition fhews the author to be a man of great sense and judgment.
Mr. Smelt concludes his fpeech thus:
"When the ftate of this empire is confidered, in the moment in which this petition is brought forth-a moment in which the aftonishing efforts of this country were raifing it to a fuperiority over the forces of the whole Houfe of Bourbon, and its own revolted colonies-a moment, in which the common danger was again awakening the amor patriæ, and annihilating that narrow felfishness which counteracted the confolidation of the whole empire-When the true principles of trade were beginning to be understood; which prove that it should take its feat with equal freedom in every part of the empire, availing itself of every local advantage and produce-When the navigation act in America, and the restraints in Ireland would be judged as prejudicial to the whole empire, as if they existed in London-And when out of our evils, had arifen that liberality of mutual advantage, which muft confolidate the empire, more than it could have been under, that selfish character which pervaded every part before the contest-When there wanted nothing but temper and unanimity in the mother country, to open the eyes of America to her true intereft, and to effect a complete union of the whole empire under common advantage, common liberty, and common fupport; the means for which might be fettled without admitting the least poffible injustice to the parts -At fuch a moment to give fanction to divifion, and to tell all our enemies that they might expect, from our internal convulfions, what their united arms could not effect, is indeed a melancholy, and most unexpected event."
Speech of Edmund Burke, Efq. Member of Parliament for the City of Bristol; on prefenting to the House of Commons, on the 11th of February, 1780, a Plan for the better Security of the Independence of Parliament, and the economical Reformation of the Civil and other Establishments. 8vo. 2s. Dodfley.
This fpeech, whether confidered as a political pamphlet, or a rhetorical compofition, muft certainly be allowed to be a moft mafterly performance. It may, indeed, be thought to propofe the reformation of fo many abufes at once, as cannot be corrected without giving a fhock to the conftitution, and impeding, in fome degree, the wheels of government. But it is with the political as with the animal body; all remedies give a fhock to the conftitution of either; but after the difeafe is removed they were intended to cure, the conftitution, relieved from the oppreffive load, refumes its wonted vigour, and the fprings of life act with greater force, and the wheels of government move with greater eafe and facility than
As to Mr. Burke's eloquence, it is rather of the pleafing and agreeable, than of the ftrong and perfuafive kind; he addreffes himself rather to the imagination than the judgment, and feems more anxious to gratify the taste than to convince the understanding. Our readers will judge for themselves from the following extract.
After mentioning the many difficulties he has to encounter in this attempt, and the great reforms that have been lately made in the French finances, he proceeds thus:
"I therefore thought it neceffary, as foon as I conceived thoughts of fubmitting to you fome plan of reform, to take a comprehenfive view of the ftate of this country; to make a fort of furvey of its Jurifdictions, its Eftates, and its Establishments. Something, in every one of them, feemed to me to ftand in the way of all œconomy in their adminiftration, and prevented every poffibility of methodizing the fyftem. But being, as I ought to be, doubtful of myself, I was refolved not to proceed in an arbitrary manner, in any particular which tended to change the settled ftate of things, or in any degree to affect the fortune or fituation, the intereft or the importance, of any individual. By an arbitrary proceeding, I mean one conducted by the private opinions, tastes, or feelings, of the man who attempts to regulate. Thefe private measures are not standards of the exchequer, nor balances of the fanctuary. General principles cannot be debauched or corrupted' by intereft or caprice; and by thofe principles I was refolved to work.
Sir, before I proceed further, I will lay these principles fairly before you, that afterwards you may be in a condition to judge whether every objection of regulation, as I propofe it, comes fairly under its rule. This will exceedingly fhorten all difcuffion between us, if we are perfectly in earnest in establishing a system of good management. I therefore lay down to myself, feven fundamental rules; they might indeed be reduced to two or three fimple maxims, but they would be too general, and their application to the feveral heads of the bufinefs, before us, would not be fo diftin&t and vifible. I conceive then,
"First, That all jurifdictions which furnish more matter of expence, more temptation to oppreffion, or more means and inftruments of corrupt influence, than advantage to justice or political adminiftration, ought to be abolished.
"Secondly, That all public eftates which are more fubfervient to the purposes of vexing, overawing, and influencing thofe who hold under them, and to the expence of perception and management, than of benefit to the revenue, ought, upon every principle, both of revenue and of freedom, to be difpofed of.
Thirdly, That all offices which bring more charge than proportional advantage to the ftate; that all offices which may be engrafted on others, uniting and fimplifying their duties, ought in
the first cafe, to be taken away; and in the second, to be confolidated.
Fourthly, That all fuch offices ought to be abolished as obftruct the prospect of the general fuperintendant of finance; which deftroy his fuperintendancy, which difable him from forefeeing and providing for charges as they may occur; from preventing expence in its origin, checking it in its progrefs, or fecuring its application to its proper purpofes. A minifter under whom expences can be made without his knowledge, can never fay what it is that he can fpend, or what it is that he can fave.
"Fifthly, That it is proper to establish an invariable order in all payments; which will prevent partiality, which will give preference to fervices, not according to the importunity of the demandant, but the rank and order of their utility or their juftice.
"Sixthly, That it is right to reduce every establishment, and every part of an establishment (as nearly as poffible) to certainty, the life of all order and good management.
"Seventhly. That all fubordinate treafuries, as the nurseries of mifmanagement, and as naturally drawing to themselves as much money as they can, keeping it as long as they can, and accounting for it as late as they can, ought to be diffolved. They have a tendency to perplex and diftract the public accounts, and to excite a fufpicion of government, even beyond the extent of
"Under the authority and with the guidance of those principles, I proceed; withing that nothing in any eftablishment may be changed, where I am not able to make a ftrong, direct, and folid application of thofe principles, or of fome one of them. Antœconomical conftitution is a neceffary bafis for an economical administration.
"Firft, with regard to the fovereign jurifdictions, I must obferve, Sir, that whoever takes a view of this kingdom in a curfory manner, will imagine, that he beholds a folid, compacted, uniform fyftem of monarchy; in which all inferior jurifdictions are but as rays diverging from one center. But on examining it more nearly, you find much excentricity and confufion. It is not a Monarchy in strictnefs. But, as in the Saxon times this country was an heptarchy, it is now a strange fort of Pentarchy. It is divided into five feveral diftin&t principalities, befides the fupreme. There is indeed this difference from the Saxon times, that as in the itinerant exhibitions of the stage, for want of a complete company, they are obliged to caft a variety of parts on their chief performer; fo our fovereign condefcends himself to act, not only the principal, but all the fubordinate parts in the play. He condefcends to diffipate the royal character, and to trifle with those light, fubordinate, lackered fcepters, in thofe hands that fustain the ball reprefenting the world, or which weild the trident that' commands the ocean. Crofs a brook, and you lose the king of England; but you have fome comfort in coming again under his majefty, though "fhorn of his beams," and no more than Prince
of Wales. Go to the north, and you find him dwindled to a Duke of Lancaster; turn to the weft of that north, and he pops upon you in the humble character of Earl of Chefter. Travel a few miles on, the Earl of Chefter difppears; and the king furprifes you again as Count Palatine of Lancaster. If you travel beyond Mouut Edgecombe, you find him once more in his incognito, and He is Duke of Cornwall. So that, quite fatigued and fatiated with this dull variety, you are infinitely refreshed when you return to the fphere of his proper fplendor, and behold your amiable fovereign in his true, fimple, undifguifed, native character of majesty,
"In every one of these five Principalities, Dutchies, Palatinates, there is a regular eftablishment of contiderable expence, and moft domineering influence. As his majesty fubmits to appear in this ftate of fubordination to himself, fo his loyal peers and faithful commons attend his royal transformations; and are not fo nice as to refuse to nibble at thofe crumbs of emoluments, which confole their petty metamorphofes. Thus every one of thefe principalities has the apparatus of a kingdom, for the jurifdiction over a few private eftates; and the formality and charge of the exchequer of Great Britain, for collecting the rents of a country 'fquire. Cornwall is the best of them; but when you compare the charge with the receipt, you will find that it furnishes no exception to the general rule. The dutchy and county palatine of Lancaster do not yield, as I have reason to believe, on an average of twenty years, four thousand pounds a year, clear to the crown. As to Wales and the county palatine of Chefter, I have my doubts, whether their productive exchequer yields any returns at all. Yet one may fay, that this revenue is more faithfully applied to its purpofes than any of the rest; as it exifts for the fole purpose of multiplying offices, and extending influence.
"An attempt was lately made to improve this branch of local influence, and to transfer it to the fund of general corruption. I have on the feat behind me, the constitution of Mr. John Probert; a knight errant dubbed by the noble lord in the blue ribbon, and fent to fearch for revenues and adventures upon the mountains of Wales. The commiffion is remarkable; and the event not lefs fo. The commiffion fets forth, that " Upon a report of the deputy auditor (for there is a deputy auditor) of the principality of Wales, it appeared, that his majesty's land-revenues in the faid principality, are greatly diminished;"and" that upon a report of the furveyor general of his majesty's land revenues, upon a memorial of the auditor of his majesty's revenues within the faid principality, that his mines and forefts have produced very little profit either to the public revenue or to individuals;"-and therefore they appoint Mr. Probert, with a penfion of three hundred pounds a year from the faid principality, to try whether he can make any thing more of that very little which is stated to be fo greatly diminished.