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CORRUPTION.

AN EPISTLE.

Νυν δ' απανθ' ώσπερ εξ αγορας εκπεπραται ταντα αντεισακται δε αντι, τουτων, υφ' ών απολωλε και νενοσηκεν η Ελλας. Ταυτα δ' εστι τι; ζηλος, ει τις ειληφε τις γελως αν ομολογης συγγνωμη τοις ελεγχομενοις· μισος, αν τουτοις τις επιτιμα ταλλο παντα, όσα εκ του δωροδοκειν ηρτηται.Demosthenes, Philipp. iii.

BOAST on, my friend -- though stripp'd of all beside,
Thy struggling nation still retains her pride :
That pride, which once in genuine glory woke
When Marlborough fought, and brilliant St. John spoke,
That pride which still, by time and shame unstrung,
Outlives e'en Wh-tel-—cke's sword and H-wk-eb’ry's tongue !
Boast on, my friend, while in this humbled isle?
Where Honour mourns and Freedom fears to smile,
Where the bright light of England's fame is known
But by the baleful shadow she has thrown
On all our fate:—where, doom'd to wrongs and slights,
We hear you talk of Britain's glorious rights,
As wretched slaves, that under hatches lie,
Hear those on deck extol the sun and sky !
Boast on, while wandering through my native haunts,
I coldly listen to thy patriot vaunts ;
And feel, though close our wedded countries twine,
More sorrow for my own than pride from thine.

Yet pause a moment--and if truths severe
Can find an inlet to that courtly ear,
Which loves no politics in rhyme but Pye's,
And hears no news but W-rd's gazetted lies, –
If aught can please thee but the good old saws
Of • Church and State,' and William's matchless laws,'
And “Acts and Rights of glorious Eighty-eight,'-
Things, which though now a century out of date,
Still serve to ballast, with convenient words,
A few crank arguments for speeching lords, 4

1. Angli suos ac sua omnia impense mirantur ; affairs can look for. All the penal laws of that caeteras nationes despectui habent.' - Barclay unparalleled code of oppression, which were (as quoted in one of Dryden's prefaces).

made after the last event, were manifestly the 2 England began very early to feel the effects effects of national hatred and scorn towards a of cruelty towards her dependencies. 'The conquered people, whom the victors delighted severity of her government (says Macpherson) to trample upon, and were not at all afraid to contributed more to deprive her of the continental provoke. dominions of the family of Plantagenet than the 4 It never seems to occur to those orators and arms of France.'-See his History, vol. i. addressers who round off so many sentences

3. By the total reduction of the kingdom of Irc- and paragraphs with the Bill of Rights, the Act land in 1691 (says Burke), the ruin of the native of Settlement, &c., that most of the provisions Irish, and in a great measure too, of the first which these Acts contained for the preservation races of the English, was completely accom- of parliamentary independence have been long plished. The new English interest was settled laid aside as romantic and troublesome. So that, with as solid a stability as anything in human | I confess, I never hear a politician who quotes seriously the Declaration of Rights, &c., to prove illustration, into what doting, idiotic brains the the actual existence of English liberty, that I do plan of arbitrary power may enter. not think of that Marquis, whom Montesquieu 3 Tacitus has expressed his opinion, in a pas. mentions, who set about looking for mines in the sage very frequently quoted, that such a distri. Pyrenees, on the strengih of authorities which bution of power as the theory of the British conhe had read in some ancient authors. The poor stitation exhibits is merely a subject of bright Marquis toiled and searched in vain. He quoted speculation, 'a system more easily praised than his authorities to the last, but found no mines practised, and which, even could it happen to ater all.

Turn, while I tell how England's freedom found,
Where most she look'd for life, her deadliest wound;
How brave she struggled, while her foe was seen,
How faint since Influence lent that foe a screen ;
How strong o'er James and Popery she prevailal

. How weakly fell, when Whigs and gold assail'dl.?

While kings were poor, and all those schemes unknown
Which drain the people, to enrich the throne ;
Ere yet a yielding Commons had supplied
Those chains of gold by which themselves are tieil;
Then proud Prerogative, untaught to creep
With bribery's silent foot ou Freedom's sleep,
Frankly avow'd his boid enslaving plan,
And claim'd a right from God to trample man !
But Luther's schism had too much roused mankind
For Hampden's truths to linger long behind ;
Nor then, when king-like popes had fallen so low,
Could pope-like kings” escape the levelling blow.
That ponderous sceptre (in whose place we bow
To the light talisman of influence now),
Too gross, too visible to work the spell
Which modern power performs, in fragments fell :
In fragments lay, till, patch'd and painted o'er
With Heur-de-lys, it shone and scourged once more,

'Twas then, my friend, thy kneeling nation quaff'd
Long, long and deep, the churchman's opiate draught
Of tame obedience-till her sense of right
And pulse of glory seem'd extinguish'd quite,
And Britons slept so sluggish in their chain,
That wakening Freedom call'd almost in vain.
O England ! England ! what a chance was thine,
When the last tyrant of that ill-starr'd line
Fled from his sullied crown, and left thee free
To found thy own eternal liberty !
How bright, how glorious, in that sunshine hour
Might patriot hands have raised the triple tower3

exist, wonld certainly not prove permanent;; 1 The chief, perhaps the only advantage which and, in truth, a review of England's annals would has resulted from the system of influence, is that dispose us to agree with the great historian's retranquil course of uninterrupted action which mark. For we find that at no period whaterer it has given to the administration of govern- has this balance of the three estates existed; ment.

that the nobles predominated till the policy of ? 'The drivelling correspondenee betwcen James Henry VII, and his successor reduced their I. and his 'dog Steenie' (the Duke of Bucking weight by breaking up the fendal system of proham), which we find among the Hardwicke perty; that the power of the Crown became Papers, sufficiently shows, if we wanted any such lihen supreme and absolute, till the Lord en

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Of British freedom, on a rock divine
Which neither force could storm nor treachery mine!
But, no—the luminous, the lofty plan,
Like mighty Babel, seem'd too bold for man;
The curse of jarring tongues again was given
To thwart a work that raised men nearer heaven,
While Tories marr’d what Whigs had scarce begun,
While Whigs undid what Whigs themselves had done, a
The time was lost, and William, with a smile,
Saw Freedom weeping o'er the unfinish'd pile !

1

Hence all the ills you suffer, --hence remain Such galling fragments of that feudal chain,

croachments of the Commons subverted the lated in its defence the celebrated 'Balancing fabric altogether; that the alternate ascendancy Letter,' in which it is insinuated that England, of prerogative and privilege distracted the period even then, in her boasted hour of regeneration, which followed the Restoration; and that, lastly, was arrived at such a pitch of faction and corthe Acts of 1688, by laying the foundation of an ruption that nothing could keep her in order but unbounded court-influence, have secured a pre- a Whig ministry and a standing army. They ponderance to the Throne, which every succeeding refused as long as they could, to shorten the year increases.

so that the vaunted British duration of Parliaments"; and though the Declaconstitution has never perhaps existed but in ration of Rights acknowledged the necessity of mere theory.

such a reform, they were able, by arts not un1 “Those two thieves," says Ralph," between known to modern ministers, to brand those as whom the nation was crucified.”-Use and Abuse traitors and republicans who urged it. But the of Parliament.

grand and distinguishing trait of their measures ? The monarchs of Great Britain can never be was the power which they gave to the Crown of sufficiently grateful for that accommodating annihilating the freedom of elections, of muddy. spirit which led the Revolutionary Whigs to ing for ever that stream of representation which give away the crown, without imposing any had, even in the most agitated times, reflected of those restraints or stipulations which other some features of the people, but which then for men might have taken advantage of so favour- the first time became the Pactolus of the Court, able a moment to enforce, and in the framing of and grew so darkened with sands of gold that it which they had so good a model to follow as the served for the people's mirror no longer. We limitations proposed by the Lords Essex and need but consult the writings of that time to Halifax, in the debate upon the Exclusion Bill. understand the astonishment then excited by They not only condescended, however, to accept measures which the practice of a century has of places, but took care that these dignities should rendered not only familiar, but necessary. See be no impediment to their voice potential in a pamphlet called 'The Danger of Mercenary affairs of legislation; and although an Act was Parliaments,' 1698; 'State Tracts,' Will. III, after many years suffered to pass, which by one vol. ii. p. 638; and see also 'Some Paradoxes of its articles disqualified placemen from serving presented as a New Year's Gift.:-(State Poems, as members of the House of Commons, it was yet vol. iii. p. 327). not allowed to interfere with the influence of the 3 The last great wound given to the feudal sysreigning monarch, nor with that of his successor tem was the Act of the 12th of Charles II., which Anne. The purifying clause, indeed, was not to abolished the tenure of knight's service in take effect till after the decease of the latter Sove- capite, and which Blackstone compares, for its reign, and she very considerately, repealed it salutary influence upon property, to the boasted altogether. So that, as representation has con- provisions of Magna Charta itself. Yet even in tinued ever since, if the king were simple enough this Act we see the effects of that counteracting to send to foreign courts ambassadors who were spirit which has contrived to weaken every most of them in the pay of those courts, he eifort of the English nation towards liberty. would be just as honestly and faithfully repre- The exclusion of copyholders from their share sented as are his people.

of elective rights was permitted to remain It would be endless to enumerate all the as a brand of feudal servitude, and as an obfavours which were conferred upon William by stacle to the rise of tha strong counterthose 'apostate Whigs.' They complimented balance which an equal representation of prohim with the first suspension of the Habeas perty would oppose to the weight of the Corpus Act which had been hazarded since the Crown. If the managers of the Revolution had confirmation of that privilege; and this example been sincere in their wishes for reform, they of our deliverer's reign has not been lost would not only have taken this fetter off the upon any of his successors. They promoted the rights of election, but would have renewed establishment of a standing army, and circu. I the mode adopted in Cromwell's time, of in

Whose links around you by the Norman flung,
Though loosed and broke so often, still have clung.
Hence sly Prerogative, like Jove of old,
Has turn'd his thunder into showers of gold,
Whose silent courtship wins securer joys, 1
Taints by degrees, and ruins without noise.
While parliaments, no more those sacred things
Which make and rule the destiny of kings,
Like loaded dice by ministers are thrown,
And each new set of sharpers cog their own.
Hence the rich oil, that from the Treasury steals,
And drips o'er all the Constitution's wheels,
Giving the old machine such pliant play, a
That Court and Commons-jog one joltless way,
While Wisdom trembles for the crazy car,
So gilt, so rotten, carrying fools so far ;
And the duped people, hourly doom'd to pay
The sums that bribe their liberties away,

creasing the number of knights of the shire, the constitution, is still left in free and unqualified to the exclusion of those rotten insignificant activity, notwithstanding the example of that boroughs, which have tainted the whole mass celebrated Bill for the limitation of this ever-bud, of the constitution. Lord Clarendon calls this ding branch of prerogative, which was proposed measure of Cromwell's 'an alteration fit to be in the reign of Geo 1. under the peculiar more warrantable made, and in a better time.' sanction and recommendation of the Crown, but It formed part of Mr. Pitt's plan in 1783; but which the Whigs thought right to reject, with Pitt's plan of reform was a kind of announced all that characteristic delicacy, which, in general, dramatic piece, about as likely to be ever acted prevents them, when enjoying the sweets of as Mr. Sheridan's 'Foresters.'

office themselves, from taking any uncourtly adfore enim tutum iter et patens

vantage of the Throne. ' It will be recollected, Converso in pretium Deo.

however, that the creation of the twelve peers by

the Tories in Anne's reign (a measure which Aurum per medios ire satellites, &c.--Horat.

Swift, like a true party man, defends) gave It would be amusing to trace the history of these upright Whigs all possible alarm for their Prerogative from the date of its strength under liberties. the Tudor princes, when Henry VII, and his With regard to this generous fit about his successors taught the people (as Nathaniel prerogative which seized so unroyally the good Bacon says) to dance to the tune of Allegiance, King George I., historians have hinted that the to the period of the Revolution, when the Throne, paroxysm originated far more in hatred to his in its attacks upon liberty, began to exchange son than in love to the constitution ; but no the noisy explosions of Prerogative for the silent loyal person, acquainted with the annals of the and effectual air-gun of Influence. In following three Georges, could possibly suspect any one of its course, too, since that memorable era, we those gracious monarchs either of ill-will to his shall find that, while the royal power has been heir, or indifference for the constitution. abridged in branches where it might be made 2 They drove so fast (says Welwood of the conducive to the interests of the people, it has ministers of Charles I.), that it was no wonder been left in full and unshackled vigour against that the wheels and chariot broke.' (Memoirs, almost every point where the integrity of the p. 35).--But this fatal accident, if we may judge constitution is vulnerable. For instance, the from experience, is to be imputed far less to the power of chartering boroughs, to whose capri. folly and impetuosity of the drivers, than to the cious abuse in the hands of the Stuarts we are want of that suppling oil from the Treasury indebted for most of the present anomalies of which has been found so necessary to make a representation, might, if suffered to remain, have government like that of England run smoothly. in some degree atoned for its mischief, by re- Had Charles been as well provided with this storing the old unchartered boroughs to their article as his successors have been since the rights, and widening more equally the basis of happy Revolution, his Commons would never the legislature. But, by the Act of Union wi have merited from him the harsh appellation of Scotland, this part of the prerogative was re- ‘seditious vipers,' but would have been as they mored lest Freedom should have a chance of now are, and I trust always will be) dutiful being healed, even by the rust of the spear which Commons,” loyal Commons,' &c., &c., and would had formerly wounded her. The dangerous have given him ship-money, or any other sort of power, however, of creating peers, which has money he might take a fancy to. been so often exercised for the government against 3 During the reigns of Charles and James, 'No

Like a young eagle, who has lent his plume
To fledge the shaft by which he meets his doo:9.
See their own feathers pluck'd, to wing the da:
Which rank corruption destines for their heart !
But soft ! my friend, I hear thee proudly say
• What! shall I listen to the impious lay,
That dares, with Tory licence, to profane
The bright bequests of William's glorious reign ?
Shall the great wisdom of our patriot sires,
Whom H-wks-b-y quotes and savoury B-rch admires,
Be slander'd thus ? Shall honest St—le agree
With virtuous R-se to call us pure and free,
Yet fail to prove it? Shall our patent pair
Of wise state-poets waste their words in air,
And Pye unheeded breathe his prosperous strain,
And C--nn-g take the people's sense in vain ?"}}

The people !-ah, that Freedom's form should stay,
Where Freedom's spirit long hath pass'd away!
That a false smile should play around the dead,
And flush the features where the soul hath fled !2
When Rome had lost her virtue with her rights,
When her foul tyrant sat on Capreæ's heights:
Ainid his ruffian spies, and doom'd to death
Each noble name they blasted with their breath,
E'en then (in mockery of that golden time,

+!
When the Republic rose revered, sublime,
And her free sons, diffused from zone to zone,
Gave kings to every country but their own),-
E'en then the senate and the tribunes stood, PY,
Insulting marks, to show how Freedom's flood

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2 It is

Popery' was the watch-word of freedom, and but I am aware that this is not fit language to served to keep the public spirit awake against the be held at a time when our birthilay odes and invasions of bigotryand prerogative. The Revolu. state-papers are written by such pretty poets as tion, however, by removing this object of jealousy, Mr. P-e and Mr. C—nn-ng. All I wish is, has produced a reliance on the orthodoxy of the that the latter gentleman would change places Throne, of which the Throne has not failed to with his brother P-e, by which means we take advantage; and the cry of No Popery' should have somewhat less prose in our odes, having thus lost its power of alarming the and certainly less poetry in our politics. people against the inroads of the Crown, has

scandal (said Sir Charles Sedley, in served ever since the very different purpose of William's reign) that a government so sick at strengthening the Crown against the pretensions beart as ours is should look so well in the face;' and struggles of the people. The danger of the and Edmund Burke has said, in the present Church from Papists and Pretenders was the reign, When the people conceive that laws and chief pretext for the repeal of the Triennial Bill, tribunals, and even popular assemblies, are per. for the adoption of a standing army, for the verted from the ends of their institution, they numerous suspensions of the Habeas Corpus Act, fina in these names of degenerated establishand, in short, for all those spirited infractions of ments only new motives to discontent. Those the constitution oy which the reigns of the last bodies which, when full of life and beauty, lay in century were so eminently distinguished. We their arms and were their joy and comfort, when have seen very lately, too, how the Throne has dead and putrid, become more loathsome from been enabled by the same scarecrow sort of remembrance of former endearments.'— Thoughts alarm, to select its ministers from among men on the Present Discontents, 1770. whose servility is their only claim to elevation, 3 We are told by Tacitus of a certain race of and who are pledged (if such an alternative men, who made themselves particularly useful to could arise) to take part with the scruples of the Roman emperors, and were therefore called, the King against the salvation of tlie empire. instrumenta regni,' or 'court-tools. From this

Soniebody has said 'Quand tous les poètes' it appears, that my Lords M-,C- &c, &c., seraient noyés, ce ne serait pas grand dommage;', are by 110 means things of modern iuvention,

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