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prayer.-—- Schemes of internal improvement" which ministers « have manifested their determination to pursue.”_What! when empires and potent kingdoms in the twinkling of an eye are daily vanishing from our fight-when, at the pointing of the great necromancer's sabre, Victory conducts his legions to battle, and Dominion takes her course in the direction he bids, are we to counteract the spell, by making auditors of accounts? Are we to avert from ourselves the mighty mischief,that has overwhelmed so many nations, by “ improving" the law courts beyond the Tweed?-As many“ internal improvements” as ministers please, but as foundations of their fame as statesmen, in the present crisis of England's destiny, such petty objects are very trash and trumpery. Napoleon, I doubt not, has his “internal improvements” in finance and police, but these are not the things of which you hear. To place France at the head of nations, and himself at the head of all conquerors, are his objects. To place England as the rock of security, to preserve her independence and her honour, ought to be the leading object of her ministers.-I ask you, Mr. Whitbread, as a man of experience and ability, as a man of constitutional knowledge, as a patriot, and as a man of honour, if ministers could merit your support, or if they could deserve the name of statesmen, were they incapable of comprehending this great truth, that POLITICAL LIBERTY MUST BE THE TRUE BASIS OF ENCLAND'S DEFence?) then ask, what is political liberty? You, who took so active a part in
THE FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE," know as well
as I in what it consists. Whatever we may think of the advantages of institutions not necessarily producing freedom, you know as well as I, that political liberty and legislative representation are convertible terms. If, therefore, our political liberty consists in being represented in the Commons House of Parliament, and nothing else, how infinitely important to us is the purity of that house ! I know not, Sir, whether you actually signed the petition drawn up by “THE FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE, ” and now upon the Journals of the Commons for the 6th of May 1793, but, I am sure you are well acquainted with its contents. Eight years ago, I remarked, that, on the authority of that petition, I found “ the majority seated in the house by the crown, by “ the borough-holders, and the peers, at only 307;” but, that in a newspaper statement;* taken from the History of the Boroughs, it was then said “ to amount to no less than the dreadful number of 424.” This was when the house consisted of only 558 members. -If, Sir, among “the schemes” of the cabinet to which you allude, a reformation of this be one, why, in God's name, not proclaim it aloud! It requires no hesitation, no veil. What is it but this reforma. tion that can give heart and hope to an almost despairing public? What but this, can silence faction
* On the 12th January, 1798, the Morning Chronicle gave a list of members, holding civil and military appointments, places, contracts, and sinecures under the crown, with near relations, &c. which amounted to one hundred and sixty three. It was from the same statement the above number, 424, was copied.
and unite the nation in support of patriot ministers? What but this, and arms in the hands of England's millions, can check the career of him who has already nearly conquered the whole Continent, but who has hitherto conquered none but slaves ?”—That man calls us a nation of shopkeepers, and truly, Sir, I am not surprized. In too much of our policy, there is the meanness of the shop. In a dirty traffic for votes we see eagerness in the extreme ; while the vital principles of freedom scarcely find an advocate. The borough trade, contraband and iniquitous, is now a road to what I will not name; and its contamination degrades even those whom one would be proud to respect. Parties contend by all the arts of intrigue for the reins of government ; but which of them, when it prevails, manifests a grandeur of sentiment by restoring to the people the rights they have lost, or repairing the damage which the constitution has received? These are not views to enter into minds intent upon the emoluments of office, fees, sinccures, stock-jobbery and all the other profits of the shop. And which, again, among the statesmen who have been rivals as war ministers, has shewn himself superior to the contracted views and sordid policy of the shop--for every thing which wants the generosity and dignity arising from a genuine love of constitutional liberty, I account selfish and sordid.- No one of them has founded his defensive system on THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION, OR THE LIBERTY OF HIS Country? The two conspicuous features in the plan of each, have been a PERMANENT standing army; and a TEMPORARY arming of
portions of the people at the discretion of Ministers, liable to be blown away by a breath of their lips. Is this the way to encounter him, who in a few days utterly annihilates immense standing armies famed for tactics and discipline? When landed upon our shores, what has England to oppose to him before whom all despotic nations fall, but her LIBERTY! Despots dare not arm the millions. An enslaved population to a regular army is “ an unresisting "medium;" while an English population armed, and organized agreeably to the Constitution, must prove a barrier which the conquerors of the conti. nent could never pass, were every soldier a Napoleon.-If, Sir, you regard the fame of those whom you support, if with humility and true devotion you bow before the shrine of your country, impress upon those ministers the few simple truths of the constitution on which I have touched. Receiving those truths, their situation will no longer be “ difficult;" Their course will be straight before them. Their proper
line of conduct will be that which he who runs may read. In saving their country they cannot fail.—Shall I be told of unseen difficulties? Have these ministers the confidence of their sovereign? If they have not, if they cannot do that which is necessary to save the state, they have no business where they are ; and their continuance in office can only deceive the people, and bring the kingdom to ruin. If they have their sovereign's confidence he will adopt their advice. Firmly supported by their lawful sovereign, ministers are more than a match for the mock sovereignty of our borough potentates,
and may at their pleasure lay it prostrate on the dunghill from whence it sprung. Neither its wealth, nor all its mercenaries, can save it from perdition, when once an honest king and honest ministers shall have determined, that it shall cease to reign. -I shall not at present speak of the part to be taken by the people in this business. If the king and his ministers should be agreed, the part of the people will then be very easy. It is because I do not imagine the people wish for such a state of things, as exposed Italy, Holland, Austria, and Prussia to conquest, that I presume upon their readiness to second their sovereign and his ministers in the natural means of precaution. I have the honour to remain, dear Sir, &c.
LETTERS BETWEEN MR. WHITBREAD AND SIR
FRANCIS BURDETT SINCE THE ELECTION.
To Sir Francis Burdett, Bart. Sir; Ever since my entrance into public life as a Member of Parliament, it has been my earnest wish to divest political differences of all personal animosity, and I have been at all times ready to concede to others, with regard to myself, the liberty I have assumed towards them, of the fullest and freest discussion of every part of my public conduct. But there are limits, beyond which it is not possible to step, without injury to the party who may happen to be the subject of animadversions, such as he must 3 N 2