« PreviousContinue »
never have been said of him, “ that he could speak a king's speech off hand.” He had all the impetuosity and force which distinguished Fox, (Charles Fox we mean) without ever reasoning so accurately, or speaking with so little art. To Burke the resemblance is still more faint; though, in the brevity and point which characterized Lord Chatham, he sometimes reminds us of what may be called the philosophical parts of Burke's great orations. We believe that Demosthenes would have thought him superior to any of the three whose names we have mentioned—even to Fox; Cicero, perhaps, would have ranked him the lowest.
We had intended to lay before our readers several extracts from those speeches which appear to be the best reported; and also to enter into a much fuller examination of their merits. But we have left ourselves no space to do so. We cannot, however, conclude without giving two or three specimens, which we select, because they appear to us to convey the clear est idea of Lord Chatham's peculiar style. The first is upon the American Stamp Act, in reply to Mr. Grenville, the author of that ill-fated measure :
“« Sir, I have been charged with giving birth to sedition in America. They have spoken their sentiments with freedom against this unhappy act, and that freedom has become their crime. Sorry I am to hear the liberty of speech in this house imputed as a crime. But the imputation shall not discourage me. It is a liberty I mean to exercise. No gentleman ought to be afraid to exercise it. It is a liberty by which the gentleman who calumniates it might have profited. He ought to have desisted from his project. The gentleman tells us, America is obstinate; America is almost in open rebellion. I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty, as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest. I come not here armed at all points, with law cases and acts of parliament, with the statute-book doubled down in dogs'-ears, to defend the cause of liberty: if I had, I myself would have cited the two cases of Chester and Durham. I would have cited them, to have shewn that, even under former arbitrary reigns, parliaments were ashamed of taxing a people without their consent, and allowed them representatives. Why did the gentleman confine himself to Chester and Durham ? he might have taken an higher example in Wales; Wales that never was taxed by parliament till it was incorporated. I would not debate a particular point of law with the gentleman. I know his abilities. I have been obliged to his diligent researches. But, for the defence of liberty, upon a general principle, upon a constitutional principle, it is a ground on which I stand firm, on which I dare meet any man. The gentleman tells us of many who are taxed, and are not represented,—the India company, merchants, stockholders, manufacturers. Surely many of these are represented in other capacities, as owners of land, or as freemen of boroughs. It is a misfortune that more are not equally represented. They have connections with those that elect, and they have influence over them. The gentleman mentioned the stockholders: I hope he does not reckon the debts of the nation as a part of the national estate.
Since the accession of King William, many ministers, some of great, others of more moderate abilities, have taken the lead of government.'
“ He then went through the list of them, bringing it down till he came to himself, giving a short sketch of the characters of each of them. * None of these (he said) thought, or even dreamed, of robbing the colonies of their constitutional rights. That was reserved to mark the æra of the late administration : not that there were wanting some, when I had the honour to serve his majesty, to propose to me to burn my fingers with an American stamp act. With the enemy at their back, with our bayonets at their breasts, in the day of their distress, perhaps the Americans would have submitted to the imposition; but it would have been taking an ungenerous and unjust advantage. The gentleman boasts of his bounties to America. Are not these bounties intended finally for the benefit of this kingdom? If they are not, he has misapplied the national treasures. I am no courtier of AmericaI stand up for this kingdom. I maintain, that the parliament has a right to bind, to restrain America. Our legislative power over the colonies is sovereign and supreme. When it ceases to be sovereign and supreme, I would advise every gentleman to sell his lands, if he can, and embark for that country. When two countries are connected together, like England and her colonies, without being incorporated, the one must necessarily govern; the greater must rule the less; but so rule it, as not to contradict the fundamental principles that are common to both.
“ • If the gentleman does not understand the difference between external and internal taxes, I cannot help it; but there is a plain distinction between taxes levied for the purpose of raising a revenue, and duties imposed for the regulation of trade, for the accommodation of the subject; although, in the consequence, some revenue might incidentally arise from the latter.
“7 The gentleman asks, when were the colonies emancipated ? But I desire to know, when they were made slaves ? But I dwell not upon words. When I had the honour of serving his majesty, I availed myself of the means of information, which I derived from my office: I speak, therefore, from knowledge. My materials were good, I was at pains to collect, to digest, to consider them; and I will be bold to affirm, that the profits to Great Britain from the trade of the colonies, through all its branches, are two millions a year. This is the price America pays for her protection. And shall a miserable financier come with a boast, that he can bring a pepper-corn into the exchequer, to the loss of millions to the nation !
« « The gentleman must not wonder he was not contradicted, when, as the minister, he asserts the right of parliament to tax America. I know not how it is, but there is a modesty in this house, which does not chuse to contradict a minister. I wish gentlemen would get the better of this modesty. Even that chair, sir, sometimes looks towards St. James's. If they do not, perhaps, the collective body may begin to abate of its respect for the representative. Lord Bacon had told me, that a great question would not fail of being agitated at one time or another. I was willing to agitate that at the proper season; the German war, my German war, they called it. Every session I called out, has any body any objections to the German war? Nobody would object to it, one gentleman only excepted, since removed to the upper house, by succession to an ancient barony, (meaning Lord Le Despencer, formerly Sir Francis Dashwood :) he told me," he did not like a German war.” I honoured the man for it, and was sorry when he was turned out of his post.
“ • A great deal has been said without doors, of the power, of the strength of America. It is a topic that ought to be cautiously meddled with. In a good cause, on a sound bottom, the force of this country can crush America to atoms. I know the valour of your troops. I know the skill of your officers. There is not a company of foot that has served in America, out of which you may not pick a man of sufficient knowledge and experience to make a governor of a colony there. But on this ground, on the stamp act, when so many here will think it a crying injustice, I am one who will lift up my hands against it.
• În such a cause, your success would be hazardous. America, if she fell, would fall like the strong man. She would embrace the pillars of the state, and pull down the constitution along with her. Is this your boasted peace? Not to sheath the sword in its scabbard, but to sheath it in the bowels of your countrymen?
“ « The Americans have not acted in all things with prudence and temper. The Americans have been wronged. They have been driven to madness by injustice. Will you punish them for the madness you have occasioned ? Rather let prudence and temper come first from this side. I will undertake for America, that she will follow the example. There are two lines in a ballad of Prior's, of a man's behaviour to his wife, so applicable to you, and your colonies, that I cannot help repeating them :
Be to her faults a little blind :
“ Upon the whole, I beg leave tell the house what is really my opinion. It is, that the stamp act be repealed absolutely, totally, and immediately.''
Our second extract is one with which many of our readers are undoubtedly familiar. But those to whom it is not new will find no fault with us for bringing such a passage to their recollection ; and they who have never seen it, are likely, we hope, to thank us for introducing it here.
“ In the course of the debate, Lord Suffolk, secretary of state for the northern department, undertook to defend the employment of the Indians in the war against the Americans. His lordship contended, that, besides its policy and necessity, the measure was also allowable on principle; for that it was perfectly justifiable to use all the means that God and nature put into our hands.'
“I am astonished ! (exclaimed Lord Chatham, as he rose) shocked! to hear such principles confessed to hear them avowed in this house, or in this country: principles equally unconstitutional, inhuman, and unchristian !
My lords, I did not intend to have encroached again upon your attention; but I cannot repress my indignation-I feel myself impelled by every duty. My lords, we are called upon as members of this house, as men, as Christian men, to protest against such notions standing near the throne, polluting the ear of majesty. “That God and nature put into our hands! I know not what ideas that lord may entertain of God and nature; but I know that such abominable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and humanity.-What! to attribute the sacred sanction of God and nature to the massacres of the Indian scalping-knife-to the cannibal savage torturing, murdering, roasting, and eating; literally, my lords, eating the mangled victims of his barbarous battles! Such horrible notions shock every precept of religion, divine or natural, and every generous feeling of humanity. And, my lords, they shock every sentiment of honour; they shock me as a lover of honourable war, and a detester of murderous barbarity.
“. These abominable principles, and this more abominable avowal of them, demand the most decisive indignation. I call upon that right reverend bench, those holy, ministers of the gospel, and pious pastors of our church; I conjure them to join in the holy work, and vindicate the religion of their God: I appeal to the wisdom and the law of this learned bench, to defend and support the justice of their country: I call upon the bishops, to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their lawn ; —upon the learned judges, to interpose the purity of their ermine, to save us from this pollution : I call upon the honour of your lordships, to reverence the dignity of your ancestors, and to maintain your own: I call upon the spirit and humanity of my country, to vindicate the national character: "I invoke the genius of the constitution. From the tapestry that adorns these walls, the immortal ancestor of this noble lord * frowns with indignation at the disgrace of his country. In vain he led your victorious fleets against the boasted Armada of Spain; in vain he defended and established the honour, the liberties, the religion, the Protestant religion, of this country, against the arbitrary cruelties of Popery and the Inquisition, if these more than popish cruelties and inquisitorial practices are let loose among us; to turn forth into our settlements, among our ancient connexions, friends, and relations, the merciless cannibal, thirsting for the blood of man, woman, and child ! to send forth the infidel savage--against whom? against your Protestant brethren; to lay waste their country, to desolate their dwellings, and extirpate their race and name, with these horrible hell
• Lord Effingham was Lord High Admiral of England against the Spanish Armada; the destruction of which is represented in the tapestry.
hounds of savage war !-hell-hounds, I say, of savage war. Spain armed herself with blood-hounds to extirpate the wretched natives of America; and we improve on the inhuman example even of Spanish cruelty; we turn loose these savage hell-hounds against our brethren and countrymen in America, of the same language, laws, liberties, and religion; endeared to us by every tie that should sanctify humanity.
“ My lords, this awful subject, so important to our honour, our constitution, and our religion, demands the most solemn and effectual inquiry. And I again call upon your lordships, and the united powers of the state, to examine it thoroughly and decisively, and to stamp upon it an indelible stigma of the public abhorrence. And I again implore those holy prelates of our religion, to do away these iniquities from among us. Let them perform a lustration ; let them purify this house, and this country, from this sin.
“ My lords, I am old and weak, and at present unable to say more; but my feelings and indignation were too strong to have said less. I could not have slept this night in my bed, nor reposed my head on my pillow, without giving this vent to my eternal abhorrence of such preposterous and enormous principles."
The third extract which we shall give, will shew how high and fearless a tone he could assume in opposition to the unconstitutional measures of the court. It is taken from a speech delivered in the year 1770, upon a motion of Lord Rockingham for an Enquiry into the State of the Nation. The debate turned chiefly upon two points--the American War, and the monstrous proceedings with respect to the Middlesex Election. Our extract refers principally to the latter topic.
"• My lords, I shall give you my reasons for concurring with the motion, not methodically, but as they occur to my mind. I may wander, perhaps, from the exact parliamentary debate; but I hope I shall say nothing but what may deserve your attention, and what, if not strictly proper at present, would be fit to be said, when the state of the nation shall come to be considered. My uncertain state of health must plead my excuse. I am now in some pain, and very probably may not be able to attend my duty when I desire it most, in this house. I thank God, my lords, for having thus long preserved so inconsiderable a being as I am, to take a part upon this great occasion, and to contribute my endeavours, such as they are, to restore, to save, to confirm the constitution.
My lords, I need not look abroad for grievances. The grand capital mischief is fixed at home. It corrupts the very foundation of our political existence, and preys upon the vitals of the state. The constitution has been grossly violated — Tue CONSTITUTION AT THIS MOMENT STANDS VIOLATED. Until that wound be healed, until the grievance be redressed, it is in vain to recommend union to parliament; in vain to promote concord among the people. If we mean seriously to unite the nation within itself, we must convince them that