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recent and marvellous acts of the French People are pregnant examples? Without disguising the vices of France, — without overlooking the horrors that have been committed, and that have tarnished the glory of the Revolution, it cannot be denied that they have exemplified the doctrine, that, if you wish for power, you must look to liberty. If ever there was a moment when this maxim ought to be dear to us, it is the present. We have tried all other means. We have addressed ourselves to all the base passions of the People. We have tried to terrify them into exertion ; and all has been unequal to our emergency. Let us try them by the only means which experience demonstrates to be invincible. Let us address ourselves to their love! Let us identify them with ourselves; — let us make it their own cause, as well as ours !
82. THE PARTITION OF POLAND, 1800. — Charles James For. Now, Sir, what was the conduct of your own allies to Poland ? Is there a single atrocity of the French in Italy, in Switzerland, in Egypt, if you please, more unprincipled and inhuman than that of Russia, Austria and Prussia, in Poland ? What has there been in the conduct of the French to foreign powers; what in the violation of solemn treaties; what in the plunder, devastation, and dismemberment of unofg fending countries; what in the horrors and murders perpetrated upon the subdued victims of their rage in any district which they have overrun, worse than the conduct of those three great powers in the miserable, devoted, and trampled-on Kingdom of Poland, and who have been, or are, our allies in this war for religion, social order, and the rights of Nations ? O, but you“ regretted the partition of Poland !” Yes, regretted! - you regretted the violence, and that is all you did. You united yourselves with the actors ; you, in fact, by your acquiescence, confirmed the atrocity. But they are your allies; and though they overran and divided Poland, there was nothing, perhaps, in the manner of doing it, which stamped it with peculiar infamy and disgrace. The hero of Poland, perhaps, was merciful and mild! He was
as much superior to Bonaparte in bravery, and in the discipline which he maintained, as he was superior in virtue and humanity! He was animated by the purest principles of Christianity, and was restrained in his career by the benevolent precepts which it inculcates !” Was he?
Let unfortunate Warsaw, and the miserable inhabitants of the suburb of Praga in particular, tell! What do we understand to have been the conduct of this magnanimous hero, with whom, it seems, Bonaparte is not to be compared ? He entered the suburb of Praga, the most populous suburb of Warsaw, and there he let his soldiery loose on the miserable, unarmed and unresisting people! Men, women and children, nay, , infants at the breast, were doomed to one indiscriminate massacre! Thousands of them were inhumanly, wantonly butchered! And for what ? Because they had dared to join in a wish to meliorate their own condition as a People, and to improve their Con
stitution, which had been confessed, by their own sovereign, to be in want of amendment. And such is the hero upon whom the cause of " religion and social order” is to repose! And such is the man whom we praise for his discipline and his virtue, and whom we hold out as our boast and our dependence; while the conduct of Bonaparte unfits him to be even treated with as an enemy!
83. AN ATHEISTICAL GOVERNMENT IMPOSSIBLE, 1794. - R. B. Sheridan. Richard Brinsley Sheridan was born in Dublin, September, 1751, and died July 7, 1816, in London. He distinguished himself greatly, in company with Burke, in the prosecution against Warren Hastings; but the reports of his speeches at the trial are imperfect and conflicting. Sheridan's fame as a dramatist is quite equal to his Parliamentary reputation.
The noble Lord's purpose is to prove that France began the war with Great Britain. This he appears to think he has established, the moment he has shown that Brissot * and others have promulgated in print a great many foolish and a great many wicked general principles, mischievous to all established Governments. But what was the sum of all that the noble Lord told the House ? What did it all prove? What, but that eternal and unalterable truth, that a long-established despotism so far degraded and debased human nature, as to render its subjects, on the first recovery of their rights, unfit for the exercise of them; but never have I, or will I, meet, but with reprobation, that mode of argument which goes, in fact, to establish, as an inference from this truth, that those who have been long slaves ought, therefore, to remain so forever.
It is contended that the present state of things in France cannot stand. Without disputing any of his premises, for the present, I will grant the noble Lord not only his principle, but the foundation upon which he builds it. I agree with him, that it is contrary to the eternal and unalterable laws of Nature, and to the decrees of the Maker of man and of Nations, that a Government, founded on and maintained by injustice, rapine, murder and atheism, can have a fixed endurance or a permanent success; that there are, self-sown in its own bosom, the seeds of its own inevitable dissolution. But if so, whence is our mission to become the destroying angel to guide and hasten the anger of the Deity? Who calls on us to offer, with more than mortal arrogance, the alliance of a mortal arm to the Omnipotent? or to snatch the uplifted thunder from His hand, and point our erring aim at the devoted fabric which His original will has fated to fall and crumble in that ruin which it is not in the means of man to accelerate or prevent ? I accede to the noble Lord the piety of his principle : let him accede to me the justice of my conclusion; or let him attend to experience, if not to reason ; and must he not admit that hitherto all the attempts of his apparently powerful, but certainly presumptuous, crusade of vengeance, have appeared unfavored by fortune and by Providence ; that they have hitherto had no other effect than to strengthen the powers, to whet the rapacity, to harden the heart, to inflame the fury, and to augment the crimes, of that Government, and that People, whom we have rashly sworn to subdue, to chastise, and to reform?
* Pronounced Breesso,
84. AGAINST POLITICAL JOBBING, 1794. - R. B. Sheridan. Is this a time for selfish intrigues, and the little dirty traffic for lucre and emolument ? Does it suit the honor of a gentleman to ask at such a moment? Does it become the honesty of a minister to grant? What! in such an hour as this, — at a moment pregnant with the national fate, when, pressing as the exigency may be, the hard task of squeezing the money from the pockets of an impoverished People, from the toil, the drudgery of the shivering poor, must make the most practised collector's heart ache while he tears it from them, - can it be that people of high rank, and professing high principles, – that they or their families should seek to thrive on the spoils of misery, and fatten on the meals wrested from industrious poverty ? O, shame! shame! Is it intended to confirm the pernicious doctrine so industriously propagated, that all public men are impostors, and that every politician has his price? Or, even where there is no principle in the bosom, why does not prudence hint to the mercenary and the vain to abstain a while, at least, and wait the fitting of the times ? Improvident impatience! Nay, even from those who seem to have no direct object of office or profit, what is the language which their actions speak ?
“ The Throne is in danger! we will support the Throne; but let us share the smiles of royalty ! “The order of nobility is in danger ! I will fight for nobility,” says the Viscount ;* “ but my zeal would be greater if I were made an Earl!” “ Rouse all the Marquis within me,” exclaims the Earl," and the Peerage never turned forth a more undaunted champion in its cause than I shall prove !” green ribbon blue," cries out the illustrious Knight, "and the fountain of honor will have a fast and faithful servant !”
What are the People to think of our sincerity? What credit are they to give to our professions? Is this system to be persevered in ? Is there nothing that whispers to that right honorable gentleman that the crisis is too big, that the times are too gigantic, to be ruled by the little hackneyed and every-day means of ordinary corruption ? Or, are we to believe that he has within himself a conscious feeling that disqualifies him from rebuking the ill-timed selfishness of his new allles ? Let him take care that the corruptions of the Government shall not have lost it the public heart; that the example of selfishness in the few has not extinguished public spirit in the many!
“ Stain my
85. POPULAR AND KINGLY EXAMPLES, 1795. - R. B. Sheridan. We are told to look to the example of France. From the excesses of the French People in the French Revolution, we are warned against giving too much liberty to our own. It is reëchoed from every quarter, and by every description of persons in office, from the Prime Minister to the exciseman, — “Look to the example of France !” The implication is a libel upon the character of Great Britain. I will not admit the inference or the argument, that, because a People, bred under a proud, insolent and grinding despotism, — maddened by the recollection of former injuries, and made savage by the observation of former cruelties, — a People in whose minds no sincere respect for property or law ever could have existed, because property had never been secured to them, and law had never protected them, - that the actions of such a People, at any time, much less in the hour of frenzy and fury, should furnish an inference or ground on which to estimate the temper, character or feelings, of the People of Great Britain.
* Pronounced Vi'kount.
What answer would gentlemen give, if a person, affectedly or sincerely anxious for the preservation of British liberty, were to say: “ Britons, abridge the power of your Monarch ; restrain the exercise of his just prerogative; withhold all power and resources from his government, or even send him to his Electorate, from whence your voice exalted him ; — for, mark what has been doing on the Continent! Look to the example of Kings! _Kings, believe me, are the same in nature and temper everywhere. Trust yours no longer; see how that shameless and perfidious despot of Prussia, that trickster and tyrant, has violated every principle of truth, honor and humanity, in his murderous though impotent attempt at plunder and robbery in Poland ! He who had encouraged and even guaranteed to them their Constitution,-see him, with a scandalous profanation of the resources which he had wrung by fraud from the credulity of Great Britain, trampling on the independence he was pledged to maintain, and seizing for himself the countries he had sworn to protect! Mark the still more sanguinary efforts of the despot of Russia, faithless not to us only, and the cause of Europe, as it is called, but craftily outwitting her perjured coadjutor, profiting by his disgrace, and grasping to herself the victim which had been destined to glut their joint rapacity. See her thanking her favorite General, Suwarrow, and, still more impious, thanking Heaven for the opportunity; thanking him for the most iniquitous act of cruelty the bloody page of history records, — the murderous scene at Praga, where, not in the heat and fury of action, not in the first impatience of revenge, but after a cold, deliberate pause of ten hours, with temperate barbarity, he ordered a considerate, methodical massacre of ten thousand men, women and children! These are the actions of monarchs! Look to the example of Kings ! ”
86. NECESSITY OF REFORM IN PARLIAMENT. —Lord Grey. Born, 1764; died, 1845.
I am aware of the difficulties I have to encounter in bringing forward this business; I am aware how ungracious it would be for this House to show that they are not the real representatives of the People ; I am aware that the question has been formerly agitated, on different occasions, by great and able characters, who have deserted the cause from despair of success; and I am aware that I must necessarily go into what may perhaps be supposed trite and worn-out arguments. I come forward on the present occasion, actuated solely by a sense of duty, to make a serious and important motion, which, I am ready fairly
to admit, involves no less a consideration than a fundamental change in the Government. At the Revolution, the necessity of short Parliaments was asserted; and every departure from these principles is, in some shape, a departure from the spirit and practice of the Constitution; yet, when they are compared with the present state of the representation, how does the matter stand? Are the elections free? or are Parliaments free? Has not the patronage of peers increased ? Is not the patronage of India now vested in the Crown? Are all these innovations to be made in order to increase the influence of the Executive power, and is nothing to be done in favor of the popular part of the Constitution, to act as a counterpoise ?
It may be said that the House of Commons are really a just representation of the People, because, on great emergencies, they never fail to speak the sense of the People, as was the case in the American war, and in the Russian armament; but, had the House of Commons had a real representation of the People, they would have interfered sooner on these occasions, without the necessity of being called upon to do so. I fear much that this House is not a real representation of the People, and that it is too much influenced by passion, prejudice or interest. This may, for a time, give to the Executive Government apparent strength; but no Government can be either lasting or free which is not founded on virtue, and on that independence of mind and conduct among the People which creates energy, and leads to everything that is noble and generous, or that can conduce to the strength and safety of a State.
“What constitutes a State ?
Thick wall, or moated gate ;
Not bays and broad-armed ports,
Nor starred and spangled courts,
No! men, high-ininded men,
In forest, brake or den,
Men who their duties know,
87. THE CONSERVATIVE INNOVATOR, 1829.-Wm. Huskisson. Born, 1770 ; died, 1830.
I HAVE been charged with being the author in some instances, and the promoter in others, of innovations of a rash and dangerous nature. I deny the charge. I dare the authors of it to the proof. Gentlemen, when they talk of innovation, ought to remember, with Lord Bacon, that “ Time has been and is the great Innovator.” Upon that Innovator I have felt it my duty cautiously to wait, at a becoming distance and with proper circumspection; but not arrogantly and presumptuously to go before him, and endeavor to outstrip his course.
• By Sir Wm. Jonos. Born, 1746 ; died, 1794.