Page images

substantial bona fide duties, that the pub-can hardly be deemed to exist to any lic may not be told that there is nobody practicable effect. Give the governors of responsible, and, in truth, as the matter the church, not new and unknown stands at present, there are but few com- powers, but prompt and commodious paratively who are responsible. I have means of applying those they have, an no wish to deny that there are many offen- awful responsibility will immediately arise; sive cases of non-residence; though the they will feel that the expectation of the majority of cases, I am persuaded, are public is upon them; that the public resuch as a man of even strict religious quires that the powers so given shall be principles, tempered with a little human used, and used for the purposes for which feeling (possibly not much the worse for given. If they are not used, or not so that temperature), would find to contain used, it may give rise to a suspicion circumstances of more extenuation than (which God avert) that the episcopal he had supposed. But even in the offensive government of the church, higa and cases, it is difficult to say who is responsible sacred as its origin may be, is, in the beyond the individuals themselves: cer- present state of manners, less favourably tainly not the governors of the church, in adapted to the care of its interests and hardly any case ; for I must, in justice, let duties than the civil constitution of the out to the House a secret, a little danger country had hitherto supposed. ous perhaps to be communicated at large, In the third place, that this enforcethat in truth there is hardly one act of ment of duties should be framed with as discipline which a bishop can execute little vexation to its objects as it is consisupon his clergy (if it is at all resisted), tent with its efficacy, without any unnebut at the expense, and the vexation, and cessary harshness or restraint, still less hazard of a law-suit.

with disrespect and degradations; with all Take this matter of residence- A decent attention to the situation of the bishop admonishes his clerk to reside, and order in the state, and to the personal the clerk turns a deaf ear; what is to be convenience of individuals. Their profesdone? The bishop has only this election, sion is in all countries of most important whether he shall employ the compulsion use to society; and its general utility deof the ecclesiastical process, or the com- pends upon its general estimation. In mon law compulsion of this statute ; for a this country it is an eminent order of the suit of one kind or other he must have. state; it has always stood by the state For a bishop to be dragging his clergy, with firmness, and in no times more meriin the character of common informer, into toriously than in the present. The indievery assize town of his diocese, subject to viduals are, in a large proportion of them, all the public freedom of discussion (ne men of learned, and many of them of elecessary, I admit, in that mode of inquiry), gant education. Literature, both useful and to all the levity of remark (allowable, and ornamental, has been in no country so I likewise admit, in the advocate who has largely indebted to its clergy. Many of to carry his present point with his jury), them are taken from among the best and is no very seemly sight; I cannot help most respected families of our country; thinking, that more harm is done to the and it is on all accounts, religious, moral, modest dignity of religion by such exhi- and political, anxiously to be wished that bitions, than balances the advantage of the families of our gentry should continue the success of the particular prosecution. to supply a large proportion of our clergy. On the other hand, if the bishop repairs Such men are not the subjects of an exto the ecclesiastical court, I certainly treme and overstrained legislation. Somecannot venture to describe a penal suit thing must be trusted to their own sense travelling through the consistory, the of duty, something allowed to their persoarches, and finally the delegates, as any nal convenience. They are to be governed, luxury to the man who has to pursue it; it is true, lenibus imperiis, by an authority certainly very far from it, looking at the efficacious in its results, but mild in its expense and the vexation that may travel forms, and just in its indulgences. May along with it. No man can expect a I add, that whilst we have seen, in other bishop to venture upon the use of such re- countries, christianity suffering in the permedies, but in very enormous cases indeed. sons of the oppressed clergy, it imposes & The constitution in theory supposes the peculiar obligation upon us to treat our governors of the church to have all neces- own with kindness and respect, and to sary powers; but they are powers which beware of degrading religion by an apparent degradation of its ministers. If there Sir, these are the outlines of the

prohas been an undue laxity in this matter, posed bill. I have only to add, that havlet the legislature signify firmly that they ing felt the difficulties of the subject in should generally repair to their benefices; undertaking this matter, I have not felt but not as men stigmatised and relegated, my sense of its difficulties diminished by carrying their resentments to their soli- having contended with them. The subtudes, and from whom, after unkind treat- ject has deep foundations in legal and ecment, a cheerful and ardent performance clesiastical antiquity; it has wide and difof duty, can hardly be expected. Surely, fusive bearings in the present system of Sir, it is upon such subjects more than any life and manners, and certainly a very seothers, that one ounce of sweet spontane- rious influence upon the good order of soous duty is worth whole pounds of com- ciety, as well as the comfort of individuals. pelled performance.

I could have wished that it had fallen into Whether these principles, on which I other hands, particularly those to which have endeavoured to construct this bill, is confided the care of the great establishare just, or the provisions well adapted to ments of the empire ; for unquestionably, carry them into effect, is for the House in a country which, with a most fortunate to judge. I shall state briefly its general wisdom, makes its religion an essential provisions, both on the part of the public part of its civil polity, the establishments and on the part of the clergy, referring, of religion are amongst the greatest. Far for farther and more minute detail, to the be from me the vanity of supposing that bill itself, which I shall move for leave to any bill which I can construct, on a subhave printed, for the use of the members ject so loaded with practical difficulties, during the recess. On the part of the can find a ready acceptance amongst the public, I propose to guard against what various opinions which prevail upon it. the House appeared to consider as the For I must honestly confess, that since it abuses of clergymen's farming, and to en- has been devolved upon me, I have rarely force the duty of residence in a double conversed with any gentleman who did not manner more effectually, by enabling the favour me with an opinion, that was not bishops to exert the authority which the directly the reverse of the last opinion I constitution has given them, and by giv- had been favoured with upon the subject. ing the common prosecutor, where he is all I have to say is, that if, with the impermitted to act, an increased reward for provements the bill shall receive from the bis diligence. On the part of the clergy wisdom of the House, it should finally there is offered, Ist, An entire amnesty succeed, I shall be glad to have been the for past 'neglect, where no prosecution instrument of introducing it to its notice. had been commenced; and, 2dly, Where If it should fail, I shall write satisfeci there had been an exemption from far- upon my own mind and conscience, under ther prosecution, on payment of costs al- the conviction that I have, with fair intenready incurred. 3dly, On the matter of tions, pursued a most desirable object, farming, a liberty given in the cases where and only failed under difficulties, to which they were injuriously prohibited by the humble talents are very unequal. Sir, I ancient statute. 4thly, on the matter of move, that leave be given to bring in a residence, to give a fair and reasonable Bill, “ to amend and render more effectual allowance of time to the clergyman for the Act of Henry 8th.” the occasions of private life, free from the Mr. Dickinson seconded the motion, doggings of any informer, though still and was sure, from the high authority of subject to the superintendance of his pro- the mover, that the measure proposed per superior to allow an ipso facto ex

would be found beneficial to the country, emption from all penalties, for clergymen Mr. Simeon wished that an interval should bearing certain offices during the times be allowed between the first and second required for the duties of those offices ; reading of the bill. Sir W. Scott said, to restore the power to bishops to grant that he wished to have the blanks filled licences for absence, in certain enumerat- up, and then to allow the bill to stand ed and expressed cases, which licences over the holidays. The motion was then shall protect from the common prose- agreed to. cutor; and, in other cases, which cannot be specifically foreseen, or provided for, Debate on Sir Francis Burdett's Motion to allow the concurrence and consent of for an Inquiry into the Conduct of the late the metropolitan to have that effect. Administration.] April 12. Sir Francis

Burdett rose, to bring forward his pro- ) an alien bill was passed, the first object of mised motion for an Inquiry into the which was, the French ambassador himConduct of the late Administration, and self—and that an embargo was laid on all spoke as follows:- Sir; the time is at ships in our ports freighted with grain for length arrived, when laying aside conjec- France, at that time certainly under seture and uncertainty, we are enabled to vere pressure from scarcity, and threatenform a just estimate of the professions, ed with the horrors of famine. Every one principles, and conduct, of those men of which acts was contrary to the law of who have, for these nine years past, and nations at peace, and in direct violation still do (for it is the same junto), exer- of a specific treaty between this country cise the powers of government in this and France. These acts of hostility, tocountry. Now we may be permitted to gether with our other warlike preparamake up our accounts of blood and trea- tions (such as embodying the militia, sure, and to show those who have a right calling together parliament in an unusual to inspect them, what has been received manner, augmenting our forces by sea in return for the dreadful expenditure of and land, and, though last not least, the both. Now, we may be allowed to take publication of lord Auckland's Memorial a retrospect of the conduct of ministers to the States General, a composition and of the objects avowed; first, for en- which, for folly, vulgar unmeaning abuse, gaging us in, and afterwards for continu.. and insolence, has scarcely a parallel), ing, the contest. I say, of the objects could not fail to excite something more avowed; because, in the variance between than doubt in the government of France, the avowed and the real objects, consists as to the sincerity of the professions of principally their guilt. But, above all, I neutrality made by the ministers of this wish to call the attention of the House, country, and of their determination to and of the public at large, to the many abstain from interfering in the interior material and mischievous alterations of the concerns of that; and these apprehenlaws, and manifold acts of aggression, sions, on the part of the government of against the constitution of the country. France, could not but be greatly inIn taking this retrospect which I propose, creased, by the recent recollection of simithe origin of the war, so repeatedly dis- lar professions made by the emperor of cussed within these walls and agitated Germany, then in strict alliance with us, without, naturally presents itself first to at the very time when he had planned an our view; and though it has been decided invasion of the French territory, and even by ministers, and their notoriously-corrupt up to the very moment of his entrance adherents, that this war was just and un- upon it, in pursuance of the treaty of Pilavoidable in its commencement, and ne- pitz; of which infamous transaction our cessary in its prosecution; yet I may now court could not be ignorant, and, in all be allowed to appeal, from decisions ob- probability, was a party concerned. tained by corruption, falsehood, and de- What, then, was the conduct of the Jusion, to the sober judgment of this French government during this period ? House and of the public at large, who Notwithstanding the recall of lord Gower have by this time, it is to be hoped, re- from Paris, they did not recall their own covered a sufficient portion of common ambassador ; they expressed, with the utunderstanding to enable them to distin- most moderation, their uneasiness at these guish between truth and falsehood, jus acts of hostility on the part of England; tice and injustice, necessity and free they deprecated a rupture with England; choice. To prove that this war had not they offered explanation of any part of its origin in any such unavoidable neces- their conduct which might give rise to it; sity, but that it was sought for and pro- I might almost say, they entreated minisvoked by his majesty's ministers, it will ters to submit to discussion and negotiabe sufficient to recall to the recollection of tion whatever might be the cause of dif. the House, the conduct of the ministers ference between this country and that. of this country towards France, previous What answer did ministers make to lanto the commencement of actual hostility ; guage so temperate? That of men prewe shall then find, that after the revolu- determined upon hostility! They added tion of the 10th of August, 1792, our am- insulting language to their former acts of bassador was recalled from Paris; that the aggression ; they refused to give or take French ambassador resident in this coun- any explanation, or to enter upon the try was refused to be acknowledged that work of negotiation at all. Hitherto negotiation used to precede; cannon, the country were so dazzled with the first emblem of war, the ultima ratio regum, successes of the leagued despots against was wont to follow. Our ministers have the liberty of France, that this war for the reversed that march ; the artillery of their Scheldt was soon by them swelled into vengeance, with which they undertake to a war for religion, social order and civil punish guilty nations, leads the van. Ne- society; by which they mean despotism, gotiation brings up the rear, whilst war, unconditional submission on the part of dreadful war, that time of harvest to kings every people to every government, and and ministers, of famine, pestilence, and in the height of their delirium nothing misery to the people, fills up the space would satisfy them, but marching to Paris, between. At length the French govern- according to the duke of Brunswick's inment declared—not war against Eng. famous and contemptible manifesto, the land—but, after stating the conduct of re-establishment of the Bourbon family the ministers of this country, and enu- and the Bastile, and the blood of those merating these acts of hostility, that the who had asserted, as we did in the case French republic was at war with the king of the Stuarts, the right of the people to of England. I have been the more parti- choose their own government. This was cular with respect to the origin of the that French principle which it behoved war, because, stopping short of a first all regular governments, per fas et nefas, principle, generally tends to confusion; to crush; hence all that zeal for the and because, on the possibility or impos- Bourbon family, which otherwise would sibility of avoiding so dreadful an evil as have been as much neglected as our dewar, depends much of the guilt of those serted ally, the family of Orange: hence transactions to which it gives rise. all those pretended terrors for the de

This, then, having been the mode of thronement of a king, which otherwise originating the war, let us next consider would no more have alarmed them tban who were our allies ? Austria and Prussia, the dethronement of the king of Poland; those crowned plunderers, who came with hence all those horrors for the murder, their hands dyed in blood, and reeking as they termed it, of a prince, which from the massacres of Warsaw, after otherwise would no more have affected having dethroned the king of Poland and them than the assassination of their late partitioned that territory, marched, in allies the emperors Peter and Paul; hence pursuance of the treaty of Pilnitz, to all that malignity which characterised this invade and partition the territory of political crusade, which rendered in their France. These were the tyrants with eyes, a whole people worthy of extermi. whom ministers advised his majesty to nation, which dispensed, whilst they were form a triumvirate.

victorious, with the rules of civilized war, Such being the origin, and with such and authorized in their opinion the atallies, let us next consider what were the tempt to starve five and twenty millions of avowed objects of the war. Sufficient people. In vain did that most able memtime has not yet elapsed, or I should ber of this House, warn ministers and the scarcely expect to be credited, to have nation of the danger from the very nature effaced from the memory of those who of this contest, -in vain did he caution hear me that the first wretched pretext them against the danger of establishing for openly joining the coalition against by this war, a great military republic in France, was on behalf of our allies, the the heart of Europe, in vain did he conDutch, to prevent the opening of the pa fute their puerile but specious arguments, vigation of the Scheldt, a pretext indeed founded on the supposed consequence of treated at the time by a man who is gone issuing French assignats,—in vain did he wild into his grave, with the contempt it expose the wild folly and madness of atunquestionably deserved. Mr. Burke did tempting to conquer France, and the imat the outset rend with a boisterous hand possibility, unless France was conquered, the veil of ministerial artifice and hypo- of her submitting to any interference of crisy, and I can show no reason, unless foreign powers in her interior concerns : that the people had no eyes, why they did terror, corruption, and the din of war sinot at that time discover the cheat. Once lenced the voice of reason and experiengaged in the war the grand difficulty ence, and France forced into a contest, was got over, and it was easy to find pre- from which she had no retreat, no choice texts for its continuance, and the minions but victory, or the re-imposition of the of arbitrary power and corruption in this Bourbon family, armed with new tp ors from vengeance, having no alternative but he has discovered the true policy of Engto conquer or be conquered, exerted land is, to have nothing to do with the under these circumstances, a furious affairs of the continent. This, Sir, I energy, of which under any other she know was the opinion held by some of must have been incapable, overcame all our wisest statesmen of old,-their maxim difficulties, bore down all obstacles, and was to guard the narrow seas, and not to surrounded by the leagued despots like a become principals in continental wars, but wild beast, with the hunters spears, and it always treated, up to the present time, treated as such, goaded to madness and by the right hon. gentleman, as a short, driven to despair, committed acts of des. sighted, narrow, illiberal policy, altogeperation which were afterwards made use ther unsuited to the present circumstances of by those who had really caused them, of Great Britain and of Europe. to excile the hatred of every country in Continuing the war then, upon the preEurope against her. Victorious in her tence of the recovery of Belgium, after turn she threatened the threatener, op- a number of triumphs and victories on pressed the oppressor, and having in the the part of France, Holland, for whose struggle wrested Belgium from the Em- protection she, however, deprecating our peror, the recovery of Belgium became interference, we undertook the war, fell the next avowed and certainly a more na- under the dominion of France, and the tional and important, if it had ever been deliverance of Holland from the Jacobin the real object of the war. Again did the power of France became a favourite able statesman before alluded to exert iheme of ministerial declamation, and af. his unrivalled abilities to prevent a con- forded in her turn a still more important tinuation of the calamities of war on the avowed object for the continuance of the score of Belgium ; not, I believe I may

war. To doubt of the infallibility of the venture to say, that he undervalued that success of the expedition fitted out for possession, or thought it a slight acquisi- the deliverance of Holland, was to extion to France, but because he was con- pose oneself to that insolence with which, vinced that, like the Scheldt, was merely since corruption has attained its present a pretext, whilst the same secret objects alarming height, all men have been treated and motives which induced the ministers who have ventured to differ in opinion to commence, also actuated them in the with the minister ; and it was said, that prosecution of the war, and which ren the slightest knowledge of human nature dered every hope groundless of its ending was sufficient to convince every man in in any less unfortunate issue. What then, his seoses of its infallible success. Now, Sir, was the language of the right hon. Sir, not to enter into a detail of expedigentleman who now sits behind the os- tions, which would be endless, and which tensible minister, and who has since de- will properly come hereafter, when the fended, and as most people think, nego- House shall have agreed to the inquiry ciated this peace? That to leave France which I mean to propose, suffice it to say, in possession of so extensive a line of sea that expedition, after the loss of a numcoast as Belgium would afford her, was ber of brave men, who deserved more dangerous to the maritime strength of honourable graves-after having exposed Great Britain ; that it was impossible for a gallant army to disgrace, and placed it this country to make peace with honor or in a situation of difficulty no courage safety leaving that conquest to France. could surmount, terminated not in the Yet now the right hon. gentleman says, deliverance of Holland, but in the delithat a peace is concluded both safe and verance of our own army by a most morhonourable, leaving that conquest to tifying convention. Having failed in this France, leaving her not only in possession infallible attempt to rescue our allies, the of such an extensive line of coast as Dutch, who fought most gallantly against Belgium affords her, but in possession of us, unsuccessful in all their intermediate almost all the ports of Europe from the projects, baffled in every quarter, deElbe to the Adriatic. The same right structive to every country that listened to hon. gentleman with the same consis. their counsels, or admitted their intertency, after having plunged us deeper ference, still shifting the ground of war * into continental politics than at any to any thing and every thing for the purforiner period, after having exhausted pose of delusion, positive of success in mines of wealth and shed oceans of blood the gross of projects which had all failed

continental warfare, now tells you, that in the detail, yet calling for confidence EVOL. XXXVI.]

[ ? K]

« PreviousContinue »