Page images
PDF
EPUB

As to the danger which officers under the rank of a colonel may be exposed to, by staff-officers bearing false witness against them, at the instigation of their colonel, it appears to me to be altogether imaginary; for the danger of suborning witnesses to give false evidence is so great, that no colonel, nor any one for him, would ever attempt it; and should he attempt it, and succeed so far as to find two or three men abandoned enough to undertake it, by being examined apart, and artfully crossquestioned, the falshood of their evidence would probably be detected, and they punished for their perjury; which could hardly fail of bringing on a discovery, or at least a strong suspicion of the subornation; and no colonel under such a suspicion could expect to hold a commission in the army, as it is, and I hope will always be, in the king's power to dismiss such a colonel from the service ; for the officers of the army, as Cæsar said of his wife, should be not only innocent, but free from suspicion.

Then, sir, as to what the hon. gentleman observed about the end of punishment, he should consider, that reducing a serjeant or corporal to a private centinel is not properly a punishment, but the removing a man from a post which experience has shewn him not to be fit for; and that experience must be known to the whole regiment, as well as to the colonel of the regiment, or the captain of the company he belongs to. Should a ser. jeant or corporal be guilty of any crime, or of

any

cri. minal neglect of duty, the colonel would not certainly content himself with removing him, but would order him to be tried by a regimental court-martial ; in which case the offence would be proved, and the punishment would be an example; but wien 110 such criminal matter is alledged against him, when ne thing is alledged but only a natural stupidity, or a natural want of understanding, which renders him unfit for all y rank in the army above that of a common soldier, the re is no occasion for any proof, or for any punishment hy way of example,

To conclude, sir, the power which the colonel has over the staff.officers, has subsisted for above sixty years, without any complaint of abuse; and as no one can know what may be the effect of abolishing it, I hope the

I hon. gentleman will excuse me, for denying my approbation of the clause he has been pleased to offer.

EARL OF EGMONT.

The following is a Part of his Speech on the Bill for the

Naturalization of the Jews.

Sir,

It is easy to be perceived, in almost every step that we have taken during this whole parliament, that we think ourselves wiser than all our ancestors for seven hundred years before us: for our business has con. stantly been to unravel all, that, in respect to law and liberty, religion and commerce, they had established as the proper rule of government for this nation. We ri

. dicule the narrow notions of our forefathers, and we ap. plaud our own open and extensive understandings which is carried to that ridiculous excess, that if a man talks of magna charta, or the petition of rights, or of any of the fundamental constitutions of the kingdom, he is sneered and laughed at. If he talks of caution in ad. mitting and countenancing every enthusiastic sect, he is a jacobite or a tory. If he talks against the hasty laying open of any branch of commerce, which from cir. cumstances may stand upon a different footing from the test-he is a man of little narrow principles, and trade is to be opened, though the plague were to be brought with it, or the conditions for that opening were to have slavery annexed. From the same conceit, from the same rage for novelty, and unlimited pursuit of general principles, when you talk of naturalization, no circumstances of our situation, in regard to the royal family now upon the throne, or to the jealousies of the people, are to be at all considered: no regard is had to the state of the laws actually now in being in Ireland, or the plantations, where any man may acquire this privilege for half a crown; to the facility with which all who apply to the legislature for it, may obtain it here ; to the general indulgence and protection of all those who come among us, though not naturalized, and exercise any art or manufacture ; nor any reflection made how far these circumstances already answer every reasonable purpose of this kind. But general naturalization, without exception, is the word : naturalize all, rich and poor, Jews, Turks, infidels, and heretics, be they who they will, or what they will, or where they will; do it without any check or control; do it without a power of remedy, let the consequencesturnoutever so much counter to what you may expect.

Sir, it is not common sense, but downright madness, to follow general principles in this wild manner, without limitation or reserve; and give me leave to say one thing, which I hope will be long remembered, and well thought upon by all those who hear me—that those gentlemen who plume themselves thus upon their open and extensive understandings, are in fact the men of the narrowest principles in the kingdom. For what is a narrow mind ? It is a mind that sees any proposition in one single contracted point of view, unable to complicate any subject with the circumstances and considerations that are, or may, or ought to be combined with it. And pray, what is that understanding which looks upon naturalization only in this general view, that naturalization is an increase of the people, and the increase of the people is the riches of the nation ? Never admitting the least reflection, what the people are whom you let in upon us; how, in the present bad regulation of our police, they are to be employed or maintained; how their principles, opinions, or practice may influence the reli- .

have upon

gion or politics of the state, or what operation their ad. mission may

the

peace and tranquillity of the country : is not such a genius equally contemptible and narrow with that of the poorest mortal upon earth, who grovels for his whole life within the verge of the oppos site extreme ?*

Sir, this leads me to the last argument which I shall urge against this bill, and it is not the least important. This bill is a step to a general naturalization, which was very daringly attempted, but happily defeated, not above two years ago. The same spirit now animates those who moved you then to attempt that hateful measure. They dare not openly avów the same design, but they artfully endeavour to bring it about again by this means, knowing full well how strong this argument must be hereafter, when you have passed

this bill : What ! will you, who have consented to naturalize even the Jews, boggle at allowing the same privilege to foreign protestants, professing the Christian religion as you do yourselves ? But the nation, sir, will see through this design, and by some means or other, I am confident, will defeat it now, as they did theri.

I conclude what I have been lead to say upon natura lization in general, and upon this naturalization of the Jews in particular, with this common proverb : that there is no rule without an exception į and that if ever there should be an exception to any general principle, it ought surely to be in the case of the naturalization of that

peo. ple, the very essence of whose character and religion consists in their abhorrence of Christianity, and rancour to the whole Christian race.

* This passage discovers more real depth of thought than any thing else I have met with in the course of these debates. There may be observations of equal value in Burke, but there is no single observation in any part of his works more profound, original, acute, and comprehensive : it may indeed be said to contain the germ of all his political reasoning. (See his French Revolution, &c.) In this speech we find the first denunciation of the intrusion of abstract theorems and metaphysical generalities into the science of politics. VOL. I.

67

LORD LYTTLETON.

His Speech on the Rebeal of the Act called the Jew Bill

.

Mr. Speaker,

I see no occasion to enter at present into the merits of the bill we passed the last session for the naturalization of Jews ; because I am convinced, that, in the present temper of the nation, not a single foreign Jew will think it expedient to take any benefit of that act; and, therefore, the repealing of it is giving up nothing. I

I assented to it last year in hopes it might induce some wealthy Jews to come and settle among us. In that light I saw enough of utility in it, to make me incline rather to approve than dislike it; but that any man alive could be zealous either for or against it, I confess I had no idea. What affects our religion is indeed of the highest and most serious importance. God forbid we should be ever indifferent about that! but I thought this had no more to do with religion than any turnpike act we passed in that session ; and, after all the divinity that has been preached on the subject, I think so still.

Resolution and steadiness are excellent qualities ; but it is the application of them upon which their value de. pends. A wise government, Mr. Speaker, will know where to yield, as well as where to resist ; and there is no surer mark of littleness of mind in administration, than obstinacy in trifles. Public wisdom on some occasions must condescend to give way to popular folly, espe. cially in a free country, where the humour of the people must be considered as attentively as the humour of a.

« PreviousContinue »