« PreviousContinue »
t people; I cannot imagine how it could produce either of these effects; for as to the officers, civil or military, is it to be imagined that a successful general or admiral, a brave and experienced captain by sea or land, or a civil officer, honest expert, and diligent in the station he is in, would be contemned because he was not capable of being a member of this house? Were the clergy ever brought into contempt by their being excluded the privilege of being chosen members of parliament? On the contrary, I believe they never got any honor by being members of either house; and I be lieve, there are very few officers, either civil or military, in the kingdom, who ever gained much honour, or much repute among the people, by their being members of either house of parliament, unless when their being such was the occasion of their being turned out of the offices they enjoyed, and might have continued to enjoy, to their own honour and the advantage of their country, if they had not been members of parliament. As to the other part of the alternative, that this house may be rendered contemptible by what is now proposed, I am not in the least afraid of it; but I am very much afraid, that if some bill of this nature is not speedily passed into a law, this house will become contemptible in the eyes, not only of our own people, but of the whole world.
Gentlemen may pretend that no man is influenced in his way of thinking, or in his manner of acting in this house, by the post or office he possesses, and may be turned out of whenever a prime minister may have a mind; but while men are men, I am convinced there will always be a great number, by far, I fear, the greatest number, who will rather vote according to the direction of the prime minister for the time being, than run the risk of being turned out of the lucrative post or office they hold, at the pleasure of the crown. And if ever a majority of this house should happen to be composed of such men, I am sure it will become as contemptible as ever the senate of Rome was, after it be VOL. I.
came the political tool of their arbitrary and tyrannical emperors. I will likewise agree with the honourable gentleman, that it may be necessary, at least it may be convenient for this house, always to have in it some of those gentlemen who belong to, and are conversant in the methods of transacting business in the several great offices of the kingdom; and therefore I am not for excluding from seats in parliament all those who are in office, civil and military; I believe no gentleman in this house ever had any such thought in his head; and if gentlemen will but peruse the bill as it stands now, they will see that there is to be an exception, which is now left blank, as in all such cases is usual; in order, that when we go into a committee, gentlemen may then propose the filling up in that blank as many offices, or as many sorts of offices as they have a mind. About this, indeed, I expected there might have been some debate; but considering the great number of officers of all sorts we have now in this house; considering how greatly that number may be increased in time to come; considering the great clamour already raised in the nation against so many officers being in this house, I really did not expect that any gentleman would have opposed the committing of the bill, or would have pretended that the passing of some such bill was not now become necessary both for the honour of this house and the safety of our constitution. To conclude, the bill is at present but a blank; but I am confident it may be made a good and a reasonable bill, and agreeable to every gentleman in this house. Therefore I hope the house will agree to the going into a committee upon it; because, if gentlemen do not like it after the blanks are filled up, they may then drop it, or throw it out upon the third reading.
PHILIP DORMER STANHOPE,
(Earl of Chesterfield.)
Was born in 1694. He was educated at Cambridge, after which he went abroad, and on his return to England, became a member of the house of commons. In 1726 he succeeded his father in the house of peers. He was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland in 1745, where he continued till 1748. He died 1773. I have given a greater number of his speeches than of any person's about this time, because I found them more ingenious, and amusing, and elegant, than any others. They are steeped in classical allusion; and he seems always anxious to adjust the dress, and regulate the forms of the English constitution, by the looking-glass of the Roman commonwealth. There may be a little sprinkling of acade mic affectation in this, but it is much more agreeable than the diplo matic impertinence and official dulness, which were at that time so much in vogue His speeches are, in this respect, a striking contrast to those of Pulteney, Pitt, Pelham, &c. It has been said that they want force and dignity. If it be meant that they are not pompous and extravagant, I shall admit the truth of the objection. But I cannot see why ease is inconsistent with vigour, or that it is a sign of wisdom to be dull If his speeches contain as much good sense, and acute discrimination as those of his rivals, as clearly expressed, and seasoned with more liveliness of fancy, I should be disposed to listen to them more attentively, or to read them oftener than if, as is often the case, their strength consisted in mere violence and turbulence, and their only pretensions to wisdom arose from their want of wit. There is something very peculiar in the form of his sentences. He perpetually takes up the former part of a sentence, and by throwing it into the next clause, gives a distinctness and pointedness to every separate branch of it. His sentences look like a succession of little smart climaxes. "And, therefore, an administration without esteem-without authority among the people, let their power be never so great-let their power be never so arbitrary, will be ridiculed. The severest edicts the most terrible punishments, cannot prevent it. If any man, therefore, thinks he has been censured-if any man thinks he has been ridiculed, upon any of our public theatres," &c. "As no man is perfect, as no man is infallible," &c. See his speech on the theatres. This method, is, I suspect, borrowed from the French where it suits with the turn of a man's mind,
it is agreeable enough, and must have a very good effect in speaking. It is, at least, better than our modern style of rhetorical architecture, where the nominative case is mounted up at the top of the page, and the verb fixed at the bottom; than those circular ladders, and winding-staircases in language, where the whole hangs suspended in an airy round, and the meaning drops down through the middle. The late Mr. Pitt was a master of this involved style.
His Speech on the Princess Royal's Marriage Portion. My Lords,
I Do not rise up to oppose the bill before us, but I think it is incumbent upon me to declare, that it is, in my opinion, a most indecent thing to provide for the princess royal of England in such a manner: It is most disrespectful to the royal family, to provide a marriage portion for so illustrious a branch of that family in such a bill of items. Here is imprimis, 500,0001. for the current service of the year. Item, 10.0001. by way of charity for those distressed persons, who are to transport themselves to the colony of Georgia. Item, so anuch by way of charity for repairing an old church. Item, so much by way of charity for repairing a dormitory. And item, 80,0001. as a marriage portion for the princess royal of England. How incongruous is it, my lords, to see such a provision come in by way of item among so many other items, many of which are for charitable uses!
In duty to the family of which that royal princess is descended, out of that regard and esteem which we ought to have for her, and which she so much deserves, not only from us but from the whole world, her marriage portion ought to have been provided for in a particular bill by itself; no foreign matter ought to have been mixed in such a bill. Your lordships were so careful in that respect, that, when you were about drawing up
an address of thanks to his majesty for communicating to this house the intended marriage of the princess royal, you would not receive a few words which were offered by way of compliment to the states general, and which might very properly have come into that address, because you were resolved to put nothing into the address that was any way foreign to the intended marriage, which his majesty had been pleased to communicate to you.
As am resolved not to oppose this bill, therefore, my lords, I shall not say any thing to the method of tacking made use of upon this occasion; nor shall I now object against the means made use of for providing for the current service of the year; but both ought certainly be taken notice of, and I hope your lordships will, upon this occasion, come to some resolutions which may tend to prevent the like practices for the future.
DUKE OF NEWCASTLE.
His Speech on the Army Regulation Bill.
As I shall certainly give my vote against the second reading of this bill, I must beg leave to give some of my reasons for so doing. I must be of opinion, my lords, that it will always be proper to leave in his majesty a power of removing the officers of the army at pleasure, in order to preserve that respect and obedience which is due from them to their king; but I am the more firmly of this opinion, when I consider, that there is at present a pretender to the crown of these realms; for while there is such a misfortune hanging over us, we