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ERRATUM.- VOL. XX. Page 73, Line 39,
At the close of the Debate on Mr. Temple Luttrell's Motion for an Address to the
King to order a Court Martial on Sir Hugh Palliser, after the words “ The motion as amended teas agreed to," add, “ but was afterwards got rid of by the order of the day.”
20 GEORGE THE THIRD, A. D. 1780.
But what, I confess, was uppermost
with me, what I bent the whole force of FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT
my mind to, was the reduction of that corrupt influence, which is itself the pe
rennial spring of all prodigality, and of all GREAT BRITAIN.
disorder; which loads us, more than, mil
lions of debt; which takes away vigour [Continued from Vol. XX.]
from our arms, wisdom from our councils,
and every shadow of authority and credit MR. BURKE's Speech on presenting from the most venerable parts of our conhis Plan for the better Security of the Inde- stitution. pendence of Parliament and the Economical Sir, I assure you, very solemnly, and Reformation of the Civil and ot. Esta- with a very clear conscience, that no. blishments.] February 11. In pursuance thing in the world has led me to such an of the notice he had given,
undertaking, but my zeal for the honour
of this House, and the settled, habitual, Mr. Burke rose and addressed the House
systematic affection I bear to the cause, as follows :*
and to the principles of government. Mr. Speaker; 1 rise, in acquittal I enter perfectly into the nature and of my engagement to the House, in obe. consequences of riy attempt; and I addience to the strong and just requisition vance to it with a tremour that shakes me of my constituents, and, I am persuaded, to the inmost fibre of my frame. I feel, in conformity to the unanimous wishes of that I engage in a business, in itself most the whole nation, to submit to the wisdom ungracious, totally wide of the course of of parliament, “ A Plan of Reform in the prudent conduct, and I really think, the Constitution of several parts of the Public most completely adverse that can be imEconomy."
gined to the natural turn and temper of I have endeavoured, that this plan should my own mind. I know, that all parsimony include in its execution, a considerable re- is of a quality approaching to unkindness ; duction of improper expence; that it and that (on some person or other) every should effect a conversion of unprofitable reform must operate as a sort of punishment. titles into a productive estate; that it Indeed the whole class of the severe and should lead to, and indeed almost compel, restrictive virtues, are at a market almost a provident administration of such sums of too high for humanity. What is worse, public money as must remain under dis- there are very few of those virtues which cretionary trusts; that it should render are not capable of being imitated, and the incurring debts on the civil establish- even outdone in many of their most strikment (which must ultimately affect na- ing effects, by the worst of vices. Mational strength and national credit) so lignity and envy will carve much more very difficult, as to become next to im- deeply, and finish much more sharply, in practicable.
the work of retrenchment, than frugality
and providence. I do not, therefore, * From the original edition, printed for J. wonder, that gentlemen have kept away Dodsley in Pall-Mall.
from such a task, as well from good na(VOL. XXI.]
ture as from prudence. Private feeling is so heavy, where it falls, and so instant might, indeed, be overborne by legislative in its operation, that the cold commendareason; and a man of a long sighted and a tion of a public advantage never was, and strong nerved humanity, might bring him- never will be, a match for the quick senself, not so much to consider from whom sibility of a private loss: and you may he takes a superfluous enjoyment, as for depend upon it, Sir, that when many peowhom in the end he may preserve the ab-ple have an interest in railing, sooner or solute necessaries of life.
later, they will bring a considerable degree But it is much more easy to reconcile of unpopularity upon any measure. So this measure to humanity, than to bring it that, for the present at least, the reformato any agreement with prudence. I do tion will operate against the reformers ; not mean that little, selfish, pitiful, bastard and revenge (as against them at the least) thing, which sometimes goes by the name will produce all the effects of corruption. of a family in which it is not legitimate, This, Sir, is almost always the case, and to which it is a disgrace ;-I mean where the plan has complete success. even that public and enlarged prudence, But how stands the matter in the mere which, apprehensive of being disabled attempt? Nothing, you know, is more from rendering acceptable services to the common, than for men to wish, and call world, withholds itself from those that are loudly too, for a reformation, who, when invidious. Gentlemen who are, with me, it arrives, do by no means like the seveverging towards the decline of life, and rity of its aspect. Reformation is one of are apt to form their ideas of kings from those pieces which must be put at some kings of former times, might dread the distance in order to please. "Its greatest anger of a reigning prince ;—they who are favourers love it better in the abstract more provident of the future, or by being than in the substance. When any old young are more interested in it, might prejudice of their own, or any interest tremble at the resentment of the succes- that they value, is touched, they become sor; they might see a long, dull, dreary, scrupulous, they become captious, and unvaried visto of despair and exclusion, every man has his separate exception. for half a century, before them. This is Some pluck out the black hairs, some the no pleasant prospect at the outset of a grey; one point must be given up to one ; political journey
another point must be yielded to another; Besides this, Sir, the private enemies to nothing is suffered to prevail upon its own be made in all attempts of this kind are principle; the whole is so frittered down, innumerable; and their enmity will be the and disjointed, that scarcely a trace of the more bitter, and the more dangerous too, original scheme remains! Thus, between because a sense of dignity will oblige the resistance of power, and the unsystethem to conceal the cause of their resent- matical process of popularity, the underment. Very few men of great families taker and the undertaking are both exand extensive connections, but will feel posed, and the poor reformer is hissed off the smart of a cutting reform, in some the stage, both by friends and foes. close relation, some bosom friend, some Observe, Sir, that the apology for my pleasant acquaintance, some dear protected undertaking, (an apology, which, though dependant. Emolument is taken from long, is no longer than necessary) is not some; patronage from others ; objects grounded on my want of the fullest sense of pursuit from all. Men forced into of the difficult and invidious nature of the an involuntary independence, will abhor task I undertake. I risk odium if I sucthe authors of a blessing which in their ceed, and contempt if I fail. My excuse eyes has so very near a resemblance to a must rest in mine and your conviction of curse. When officers are removed, and the absolute, urgent necessity there is, the offices remain, you may set the grati. that something of the kind should be done. tude of some against the anger of others; If there is any sacrifice to be made, either you may oppose the friends you oblige of estimation or of fortune, the smallest is against the enemies you provoke. But the best. Commanders in chief are not services of the present sort create no at- to be put upon the forlorn hope. But, tachments. The individual good felt in a indeed it is necessary that the attempt public benefit, is comparatively so small, should be made. It is necessary from our comes round through such an involved own political circumstances ; it is neceslabyrinth of intricate and tedious revolu. sary from the operations of the enemy; it tions; whilst a present personal detriment is necessary from the demands of the peo.
ple; whose desires, when they do not mi- our circumstances and our resources: I litate with the stable and eternal rules of mean to say a little more on the operations justice and reason (rules which are above of the enemy, because this matter seems us, and above them) ought to be as a law to me very natural in our present delito a House of Commons.
beration. When I look to the other side As to our circumstances, I do not mean of the water, I cannot help recollecting to aggravate the difficulties of them, by what Pyrrhus said on reconnoitring the the strength of any colouring whatsoever. Roman camp, “ These barbarians have On the contrary, I observe, and observe nothing barbarous in their discipline." with pleasure, that our affairs rather wear When I look, as I have pretty carefully a more promising aspect than they did on looked into the proceedings of the French the opening of this session. We have had king, I am sorry to say it, I see nothing some leading successes. But those who of the character and genius of arbitrary rate them at the highest (higher a great finanee; none of the bold frauds of bankdeal indeed than I dare to do) are of opi- rupt power; none of the wild struggles, nion, that, upon the ground of such ad- and plunges, of despotism in distress ;vantages, we cannot at this time hope to no lopping off from the capital of debt; make any treaty of peace, which would not —no suspension of interest ;-no robbery be ruinous and completely disgraceful. under the name of loan ;-10 raising the In such an anxious state of things, if value, no debasing the substance of the dawnings of success serve to animate our coin. I see neither Louis the 14th nor diligence, they are good; if they tend to Louis the 15th. On the contrary, I beincrease our presumption, they are worse hold with astonishment, rising before me, than defeats. The state of our affairs by the very bands of arbitrary power, and shall then be as promising as any one may in the very midst of war and confusion, a choose to conceive it: it is, however, but regular, methodical system of public crepromising. We must recollect, that with dit: I behold a fabric laid on the natural but half of our natural strength, we are and solid foundations of trust and confiat war against confederated powers, who dence among men; and rising, by fair have singly threatened us with ruin ; we gradations, order over order, according to must recollect, that whilst we are left the just rules of symmetry and art. What naked on one side, our other flank is un- a reverse of things! Principle, method, covered by any alliance ; that whilst we regularity, economy, frugality, justice to are weighing and balancing our successes individuals, and care of the people, are the against our losses, we are accumulating resources with which France makes war debt to the amount of at least 14 millions upon Great Britain. God avert the omen! in the year. That loss is certain. But if we should see any genius in war and
I have no wish to deny, that our suc- politics arise in France to second what is cesses are as brilliant as any one chooses done in the bureau (I turn my eyes from to make them; our resources too may, for the consequences. me, be as unfathomable as they are re- The noble lord in the blue ribbon, last presented. Indeed they are just whatever year, treated all this with contempt." He the people possess, and will submit to pay. never could conceive it possible that the Taxing is an easy business. Any pró- French minister of finance could go jector can contrive new impositions; any through that year with a loan of but bungler can add to the old. But is it al. 1,700,0001.; and that he should be able together wise to have no other bounds to to fund that loan without any tax. The your impositions, than the patience of second year, however, opens the very same those who are to bear them?
scene. A small loan, a loan of no more All I claim upon the subject of your than 2,500,0001. is to carry our enemies resources is this, that they are not likely through the service of this year also. to be increased by wasting them. I think No tax is raised to fund that debt; no tax I shall be permitted to assume, that a sys- is raised for the current services. I am tem of frugality will not lessen your riches, credibly informed that there is no anticiwhatever they may be ;-I believe it will pation whatsoever. Compensations are not be hotly disputed, that those resources correctly made.* Old debts continue to which lie heavy on the subject, ought not to be objects of preference; that they
* This term comprehends various retribuought not to be the very first choice, to tions made to persons whose offices are taken an honest representative of the people. away, or who, in any other way, suffer by the
This is all, Sir, that I shall say upon | new arrangements that are made.
be sunk as in the time of profound peace. ( which is the foundation of confidence. Even payments which their treasury had On the other hand, I am far from being been authorized to suspend during the sure, that a monarchy, when once it is time of war, are not suspended.
properly regulated, may not for a long A general reform, executed through time furnish a foundation for credit upon every department of the revenue, creates the solidity of its maxims, though it af*an annual income of more than half a mil- fords no ground of trust in its institutions.
ion, whilst it facilitates and simplifies all I am afraid I see in England, and in the functions of administration. The France, something like a beginning of King's household—at the remotest ave- both these things. I wish I may be found nues to which all reformation has been in a mistake. hitherto stopped, that household, which This very short, and very imperfect has been the strong hold of prodigality, state of what is now going on in France the virgin fortress which was never before (the last circumstances of which I received attacked_has been not only not defended, in about eight days after the registry of but it has, even in the forms, been sur the edict *) I do not, Sir, lay before you rendered by the King to the economy of his minister. No capitulation; no reserve.
* Extract from the Edicts lately published by Economy has entered in triumph into the
the King of France, on the subject of Na public splendour of the monarch, into his tional Economy, quoted by Mr. Burke in
the course of the above Speech. private amusements, into the appointments of his nearest and highest relations. Louis, &c. - Being wholly occupied in esta@conomy and public spirit have made a blishing order and economy in the expences of beneficent and an honest spoil; they have our houshold, in as great a degree as consists plundered, from extravagance and luxury,
with the digoity of our crown, we have confor the use of substantial service, a revenue
sidered, that it will be conducive to this end to
re-unite to us all the offices of our private of near 400,0001. The reform of the houshold, part of which had been alienated by finances, joined to this reform of the the kings our predecessors, under the titles of court, gives to the public 900,0001. casual revenues, and bad thereby become a year and upwards.
heavy charge to the crown; as we shall thereThe minister who does these things is a fore become alone interested in the number and great man - But the king who desires value of these offices, we shall be more at that they should be done, is a far greater. liberty to abolish such as appear to be useless, to We must do justice to our enemies, these arrangements, our general views of ad
determine the emolument, to consult only, in These are the acts of a patriot king. I ministration. We shall refer to ourselves to am not in dread of the vast armies of
examine in our justice what disadvantages France: I am not in dread of the gallant may ensue to our chief officers, and those of spirit of its brave and numerous nobility : the queen, our dearest wife and companion, I am not alarmed even at the great navy from the deprivation of those casual revenues, which has been so miraculously created. which add nothing in splendour equal to their All these things Louis the 14th had be- immense charge. We will besides preserve to fore. With all these things, the French them their various privileges ; and they always monarchy has more than once fallen
shall be, as they at present are, emineouly distrate at the feet of the public faith of tinguished by the rank and dignity of the per
sons to whom they are entrusted. Great Britain. It was the want of public • for these causes, &c.' credit which disabled France from reco- This edict is composed of three articles, vering after her defeats, or recovering ExTRACT from the King's Edict for the Supeven from her victories and triumphs. It
pression of the Charge of Comptroller. was a prodigal court, it was an ill-ordered
general of the King's Housebold, and the revenue, that sapped the foundations of
Money-chamber, the Lieutenant-compall her greatness. Credit cannot exist troller-general of Forniture belonging to under the arm of necessity. Necessity the Crown ; the Office of Comptrollerstrikes at credit, I allow, with a heavier general of the Stables, of Lieutenant-compand quicker blow under an arbitrary mo
troller-general of the Plate, Household narchy, than under a limited and balanced
Amusements, and Affairs of the King's
Chamber ; and of the two Offices of Compgovernment: but still necessity and credit
troller-general of the Queen's Houshold; are natural enemies, and cannot be long with the Establishment of a General Of. reconciled in any situation. From neces
fice for the Expence of the Houshold.-sity and corruption, a free state may lose Given at Versailles, in the Month of Jathe spirit of that complex constitution