Page images

and to justify my conduct. I expected that friend.
fhip, or if that principle failed, curiosity at lealt
would move the party to fend over some person,
from whose report they might have both sides of
the question laid before them. Though this expec-
tation be founded in reason, and you want to be
informed at least as much as I do to be justified, yet
I have hitherto flattered myself with it in vain. Po
repair this misfortune, therefore, as far as lies in my
power, I resolve to put into writing the sum of what
I should have said in that case: these papers fhall,
lie by me till time and accidents produce some oc-
casion of communicating them to you. The true
occasion of doing it, with advantage to the party,
will probably be lost: but they will remain a monu-
ment of my justification to posterity. At worst, if
even this fails me, I am sure of one fatisfaction in
writing them; the satisfaction of unburdening my
mind to a friend, and of stating before an equitable
judge the account, as I apprehend it to stand, be-
tween the tories and myself." Quantam humano
'« concilio efficere potui, circumspectis rebus meis
" omnibus, rationibusque fubductis, fummain feci
- cogitationum mearum omnium, quam tibi fi po-
66 tero breviter exponam.".

It is necessary to my design that I call to your mind the state of affairs in Britain from the latter part of the year one thousand seven hundred and ten, to the beginning of the year one thousand seven hundred and fifteen, about which time we parted. I go no farther back, because the part which I acted before that time, in the first eslays I made in public affairs, was the part of a tory, and so far of a piece with that which I acted afterwards. Besides, the things which preceded this space of time had no immediate infuence on those which happened since that time; whereas the strange events which we have seen fall out in the king's reign were owing, in a great mea



sure to what was done, or neglected to be done, in the last four years of the queen's. The memory of these events being fresh, I shall dwell as little as poffible upon them. It will be sufficient that I make a rough sketch of the face of the court, and of the conduct of the several parties during that time. Your memory will soon furnish the colors which I shall omit to lay, and finish up the picture.

From the time at which I left Britain I had not the advantage of acting under the eyes of the party which I served, nor of being able from time to time to appeal to their judgment. The gross of what happened has appeared, but the particular steps which led to those events have been either concealed or mif. represented. Concealed from the nature of them, or misrepresented by those with whom I never agreed perfectly, except in thinking that they and I were extremely unfit to continue embarked in the same bottom together. It will, therefore, be proper to descend, under this head, to a more particular relation.

In the summer of the year one thousand seven hundred and ten, the queen was prevailed upon to change her parliament and her ministry. The intrigue of the Earl of Oxford might facilitate the means, the violent prosecution of Sacheverel, and other unpopular measures might create the occasion, and encourage her in the resolution : but the true original cause was the personal ill usage which she received in her private life, and in some trifling instances of the exercise of her power; for indulgence in which she would certainly have left the reins of government in those hands, which had held them ever since her accession to the throne.

I am afraid that we came to court in the same dispositions as all parties have done; that the principal spring of our actions was to have the government of the state in our hands; that our principal



views were the conservation of this power, great employments to ourselves, and great opportunities of rewarding those who had helped to raise us, and of hurting those who stood in opposition to us. It is however true, that with these considerations of private and party interest, there were others intermingled which had for their object the public good of the nation, at least what we took to be such.

We looked on the political principles which had generally prevailed in our government from the revolution, in one thousand six hundred and eightyeight, to be destructive of our true interest, to have mingled us too much in the affairs of the continent, to tend to the impoverishing our people, and to the loosening the bands of our constitution in church and state. We supposed the tory party to be the bulk of the landed interest, and to have no contrary influence blended into its composition. We supposed the whigs to be the remains of a party, formed against the ill designs of the court under King Charles the Second, nursed up into strength and applied to contrary uses by King William the Third, and yet still so weak as to lean for support on the Presbyterians and the other feetaries, on the bank and the other corporations, on the Dutch and the other allies. From hence we judged it to follow, that they had been forced, and must continue so, to render the national interest subfervient to the interest of those who lent them an additional strength, without which they could never be the prevalent party. The view, therefore, of those amongsi us who thought in this manner, was to improve the queen's favor, to break the body of the whigs, to render their supports useless to them, and to fill the employments of the kingdom down to the meanest with tories. We imagined that such measures, joined to the advantages of our numbers and our property, would secure us against all attempts dur.

[ocr errors]

ing her reign; and that we should soon become too confiderable, not to make our terms in all events which might happen afterwards : concerning which, to speak truly, I believe few or none of us had

any very fettled refolution.

In order to bring these purpofes about, I verily think that the persecution of Diflenters entered into no man's head. By the bills for preventing occafional conformity and the growth of schism, it was hoped that their sting would be taken away. These bills were thought necessary for our party interest, and besides were deemed neither unreasonable nor unjust. The good of fociety may require that no person should be deprived of the protection of the government on account of his opinions in religious matters, but it does not follow from hence that men ought to be trusted in any degree with the preserva. tion of the establishment, who must, to be confistent with their principles, endeavor the fubversion of what is established. An indulgence to consciences, which the prejudice of education and long habits have rendered fcrupulous, may be agreeable to the rules of good policy and of humanity: yet will it hardly follow from hence, that a government is under any obligation to indulge a tenderness of conscience to come; or to connive at the propagating of these prejudices, and at the forming of these habits. The evil effect is without remedy, and may therefore deserve indulgence; but the evil cause is to be prevented, and can therefore be intitled to none. Besides this, the bills I am speaking of, rather than to enact any thing new, feemed only to enforce the observation of antient laws; which had been judged neceffary for the security of the church and ftate, at a time when the memory of the ruin of both, and of the hands by which that ruin had been wrought, was fresh in the minds of men.

The bank, the East-India Company, and in general the monied interest, had certainly nothing to apprehend like what they feared, or affected to fear, from the tories, an entire subversion of their pro. perty. Multitudes of our own party would have been wounded by such a blow. The intention of those, who were the warmest, seemed to me to go no farther than restraining their influence on the legislature, and on matters of Itate; and finding at a proper feason means to make them contribute to the support and ease of a government, under which they enjoyed advantages so much greater than the rest of their fellow-lubjects. The mischievous consequence which had been foreseen and foretold too, at the establishment of those corporations, appeared visibly. The country gentlemen were vexed, put to great expences, and even baffled by them in their elections : and among the members of every parliament numbers were immediately or indirečtly under their influence. The bank had been extravagant enough to pull off the mask, and when the queen seemed to intend a change in her ministry, they had deputed some of their members to represent against it. But that which touched sensibly, even those who were but little affected by other considerations, was the prodigious inequality between the condition of the monied men and of the rest of the nation. The proprietor of the land, and the merchant who brought riches home by the returns of foreign trade, had during two wars bore the whole immenfe load of the national expences; whilst the lender of money, who added nothing to the common stock, throve by the public calamity, and contributed not a mite to the public charge.


As to the allies, I faw no difference of opinion among all those who came to the head of affairs at this time. Such of the tories as were in the system above-mentioned, such of them as deserted soon after from us, and such of the whigs as had upon this occasion deserted to us, seemed equally convinced of the unreasonableness and even of the impossibility of

[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »