A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Political reason is a computing principle;
adding--subtracting--multiplying--and dividing, morally and not
metaphysically or mathematically, true moral denominations."

As the wondering audience, whom Mr. Burke supposes himself talking to,
may not understand all this learned jargon, I will undertake to be
its interpreter. The meaning, then, good people, of all this, is: That
government is governed by no principle whatever; that it can make evil
good, or good evil, just as it pleases. In short, that government is
arbitrary power.

But there are some things which Mr. Burke has forgotten. First, he has
not shown where the wisdom originally came from: and secondly, he has
not shown by what authority it first began to act. In the manner he
introduces the matter, it is either government stealing wisdom, or
wisdom stealing government. It is without an origin, and its powers
without authority. In short, it is usurpation.

Whether it be from a sense of shame, or from a consciousness of some
radical defect in a government necessary to be kept out of sight, or
from both, or from any other cause, I undertake not to determine, but
so it is, that a monarchical reasoner never traces government to its
source, or from its source. It is one of the shibboleths by which he
may be known. A thousand years hence, those who shall live in America or
France, will look back with contemplative pride on the origin of their
government, and say, This was the work of our glorious ancestors! But
what can a monarchical talker say? What has he to exult in? Alas he has
nothing. A certain something forbids him to look back to a beginning,
lest some robber, or some Robin Hood, should rise from the long
obscurity of time and say, I am the origin. Hard as Mr. Burke laboured
at the Regency Bill and Hereditary Succession two years ago, and much
as he dived for precedents, he still had not boldness enough to bring
up William of Normandy, and say, There is the head of the list! there
is the fountain of honour! the son of a prostitute, and the plunderer of
the English nation.

The opinions of men with respect to government are changing fast in all
countries. The Revolutions of America and France have thrown a beam of
light over the world, which reaches into man. The enormous expense of
governments has provoked people to think, by making them feel; and when
once the veil begins to rend, it admits not of repair. Ignorance is of a
peculiar nature: once dispelled, it is impossible to re-establish it.
It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of
knowledge; and though man may be kept ignorant, he cannot be made
ignorant. The mind, in discovering truth, acts in the same manner as it
acts through the eye in discovering objects; when once any object has
been seen, it is impossible to put the mind back to the same condition
it was in before it saw it. Those who talk of a counter-revolution in
France, show how little they understand of man. There does not exist in
the compass of language an arrangement of words to express so much
as the means of effecting a counter-revolution. The means must be an
obliteration of knowledge; and it has never yet been discovered how to
make man unknow his knowledge, or unthink his thoughts.

Mr. Burke is labouring in vain to stop the progress of knowledge; and it
comes with the worse grace from him, as there is a certain transaction
known in the city which renders him suspected of being a pensioner in
a fictitious name. This may account for some strange doctrine he has
advanced in his book, which though he points it at the Revolution
Society, is effectually directed against the whole nation.

"The King of England," says he, "holds his crown (for it does not belong
to the Nation, according to Mr. Burke) in contempt of the choice of the
Revolution Society, who have not a single vote for a king among them
either individually or collectively; and his Majesty's heirs each in
their time and order, will come to the Crown with the same contempt of
their choice, with which his Majesty has succeeded to that which he now
wears."

As to who is King in England, or elsewhere, or whether there is any
King at all, or whether the people choose a Cherokee chief, or a Hessian
hussar for a King, it is not a matter that I trouble myself about--be
that to themselves; but with respect to the doctrine, so far as it
relates to the Rights of Men and Nations, it is as abominable as
anything ever uttered in the most enslaved country under heaven.
Whether it sounds worse to my ear, by not being accustomed to hear such
despotism, than what it does to another person, I am not so well a judge
of; but of its abominable principle I am at no loss to judge.

It is not the Revolution Society that Mr. Burke means; it is the Nation,
as well in its original as in its representative character; and he has
taken care to make himself understood, by saying that they have not
a vote either collectively or individually. The Revolution Society is
composed of citizens of all denominations, and of members of both the
Houses of Parliament; and consequently, if there is not a right to a
vote in any of the characters, there can be no right to any either in
the nation or in its Parliament. This ought to be a caution to every
country how to import foreign families to be kings. It is somewhat
curious to observe, that although the people of England had been in the
habit of talking about kings, it is always a Foreign House of Kings;
hating Foreigners yet governed by them.--It is now the House of
Brunswick, one of the petty tribes of Germany.

It has hitherto been the practice of the English Parliaments to regulate
what was called the succession (taking it for granted that the Nation
then continued to accord to the form of annexing a monarchical branch
of its government; for without this the Parliament could not have had
authority to have sent either to Holland or to Hanover, or to impose
a king upon the nation against its will). And this must be the utmost
limit to which Parliament can go upon this case; but the right of the
Nation goes to the whole case, because it has the right of changing its
whole form of government. The right of a Parliament is only a right in
trust, a right by delegation, and that but from a very small part of the
Nation; and one of its Houses has not even this. But the right of the
Nation is an original right, as universal as taxation. The nation is
the paymaster of everything, and everything must conform to its general
will.

I remember taking notice of a speech in what is called the English House
of Peers, by the then Earl of Shelburne, and I think it was at the time
he was Minister, which is applicable to this case. I do not directly
charge my memory with every particular; but the words and the purport,
as nearly as I remember, were these: "That the form of a Government was
a matter wholly at the will of the Nation at all times, that if it chose
a monarchical form, it had a right to have it so; and if it afterwards
chose to be a Republic, it had a right to be a Republic, and to say to a
King, 'We have no longer any occasion for you.'"

When Mr. Burke says that "His Majesty's heirs and successors, each in
their time and order, will come to the crown with the same content of
their choice with which His Majesty had succeeded to that he wears," it
is saying too much even to the humblest individual in the country;
part of whose daily labour goes towards making up the million sterling
a-year, which the country gives the person it styles a king. Government
with insolence is despotism; but when contempt is added it becomes
worse; and to pay for contempt is the excess of slavery. This species
of government comes from Germany; and reminds me of what one of the
Brunswick soldiers told me, who was taken prisoner by, the Americans
in the late war: "Ah!" said he, "America is a fine free country, it is
worth the people's fighting for; I know the difference by knowing my
own: in my country, if the prince says eat straw, we eat straw."
God help that country, thought I, be it England or elsewhere, whose
liberties are to be protected by German principles of government, and
Princes of Brunswick!

As Mr. Burke sometimes speaks of England, sometimes of France, and
sometimes of the world, and of government in general, it is difficult
to answer his book without apparently meeting him on the same ground.
Although principles of Government are general subjects, it is next to
impossible, in many cases, to separate them from the idea of place and
circumstance, and the more so when circumstances are put for arguments,
which is frequently the case with Mr. Burke.

In the former part of his book, addressing himself to the people of
France, he says: "No experience has taught us (meaning the English),
that in any other course or method than that of a hereditary crown,
can our liberties be regularly perpetuated and preserved sacred as our
hereditary right." I ask Mr. Burke, who is to take them away? M. de la
Fayette, in speaking to France, says: "For a Nation to be free, it
is sufficient that she wills it." But Mr. Burke represents England as
wanting capacity to take care of itself, and that its liberties must be
taken care of by a King holding it in "contempt." If England is sunk
to this, it is preparing itself to eat straw, as in Hanover, or in
Brunswick. But besides the folly of the declaration, it happens that
the facts are all against Mr. Burke. It was by the government being
hereditary, that the liberties of the people were endangered. Charles I.
and James II. are instances of this truth; yet neither of them went so
far as to hold the Nation in contempt.

As it is sometimes of advantage to the people of one country to hear
what those of other countries have to say respecting it, it is possible
that the people of France may learn something from Mr. Burke's book, and
that the people of England may also learn something from the answers
it will occasion. When Nations fall out about freedom, a wide field of
debate is opened. The argument commences with the rights of war, without
its evils, and as knowledge is the object contended for, the party that
sustains the defeat obtains the prize.

Mr.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.