thoughts on the cause of the present discontents summary
Every project of a material change in a Government so complicated as ours, combined at the same time with external circumstances still more complicated, is a matter full of difficulties; in which a considerate man will not be too ready to decide; a prudent man too ready to undertake; or an honest man too ready to promise. They are convinced, by sufficient experience, that no plan, either of lenity or rigour, can be pursued with uniformity and perseverance. Mr. Pitt was first attacked. Stanford Libraries' official online search tool for books, media, journals, databases, government documents and more. When an arbitrary imposition is attempted upon the subject, undoubtedly it will not bear on its fore-head the name of Ship-money. A strenuous resistance to every appearance of lawless power; a spirit of independence carried to some degree of enthusiasm; an inquisitive character to discover, and a bold one to display, every corruption and every error of Government; these are the qualities which recommend a man to a feat in the House of Commons, in open and merely popular elections. Breves et infaustos populi Romani amores. For this reason they discover upon all occasions the utmost: fear of every thing, which by possibility may lead to such an event. Never may we become plus sages que les sages, as the French comedian has happily expressed it, wiser than all the wise and good men who have lived before us. This servitude is to an House of Commons (like obedience to the Divine law) "perfect freedom." Foreign powers, confident in the knowledge of their character, have not scrupled to violate the most solemn treaties; and, in defiance of them, to make conquests in the midst of a general peace, and in the heart of Europe. They contend, that no adequate provocation has been given for so spreading a discontent; our affairs having been conducted throughout with remarkable temper and consummate wisdom. I reflect virtue in all its situations; even when it is found in the unsuitable company of weakness. It is impossible that the cause of this strange distemper mould not sometimes become a subject of discourse. It is a disorder which has arisen from the cure of greater disorders; it has arisen from the extreme difficulty of reconciling liberty under a monarchical Government, with external strength and with internal tranquillity. Underhand and oblique ways would be studied. So far I have considered the effect of the Court system, chiefly as it operates upon the executive Government, on the temper of the people, and on the happiness of the Sovereign. It is the business of the speculative philosopher to mark the proper ends of Government. It is a right, the effect of which is to give to the people, that man, and that man only, whom by their voices, actually, not constructively given, they declare that they know, esteem, love, and trust. But the pleasant part of the story is that these King's friends have no more ground for usurping such a title, than a resident freeholder in Cumberland or in Cornwall. An exterior Administration, chosen for its impotency, or after it is chosen purposely rendered impotent, in order to be rendered subservient, will not be obeyed. By such means it may appear who those are, that, by an indiscriminate support of all Administrations, have totally banished all integrity and confidence out of public proceedings; have confounded the best men with the worst; and weakened and dissolved, instead of strengthening and compacting, the general frame of Government. For a considerable time this separation of the representatives from their constituents went on with a silent progress; and had those, who conducted the plan for their total separation, been persons of temper and abilities any way equal to the magnitude of their design, the success would have been infallible: but by their precipitancy they have laid it open in all its nakedness; the nation is alarmed at it; and the event may not be pleasant to the contrivers of the scheme. Parliament was indeed the great object of all these politicks, the end at which they aimed, as well as the instrument by which they were to operate. Therefore they turn their eyes entirely from Great Britain, where they have neither dependence on friendship, nor apprehension from enmity. They conclude, not unwisely, that such rotten members will become the first objects of disgust and resentment to their antient connexions. His collegues in office are in haste to shake him off, and to disclaim the whole of his proceedings. Edmund Burke was born at Dublin on the first of January, 1730. This scheme might have been expected to answer at least its own end, and to indemnify the King, in his personal capacity, for all the confusion into which it has thrown his Government. Suppose then we were to ask, whether the King has been richer than his predecessors in accumulated wealth, since the establishment of the plan of Favouritism? Whatever original energy may be supposed either in force or regulation; the operation of both is, in truth, merely instrumental. All this however is submitted to, in order to avoid that monstrous evil of governing in concurrence with the opinion of the people. Whilst any errours committed in support of power were left to the law, with every advantage of favourable construction, of mitigation, and finally of pardon; all excesses on the side of liberty, or in pursuit of popular favour, or in defence of popular rights and privileges, were not only to be punished by the rigour of the known law, but by a discretionary proceeding which brought on the loss of the popular object itself. Without them, your Commonwealth is no better than a scheme upon paper; and not a living, acting, effective constitution. The Court Party resolve the whole into faction. It were better, perhaps, that they should have a corrupt interest in the forms of the constitution, than that they should have none at all. But if the habit prevails of going beyond the law, and superseding this judicature, of carrying offences, real or supposed, into the legislative bodies, who shall establish themselves into courts of criminal equity (so the Star Chamber has been called by Lord Bacon), all the evils of the Star Chamber are revived. format(s) Book Back; 0 Marked; Mark; Options Report Refworks Print Link Email Request; Holdings. We have no direct right to examine into the receipts from his Majesty's German Dominions, and the Bishoprick of Osnabrug. a year; because, when they were afterwards granted to George the First, 120,000l. It is therefore next in order, and equal in importance, that the discretionary powers which are necessarily veiled in the Monarch, whether for the execution of the laws, or for the nomination to magistracy and office, or for conducting the affairs of peace and war, or for ordering the revenue, should all be exercised upon public principles and national grounds, and not on the likings or prejudices, the intrigues or policies, of a Court. Men will see the necessity of honest combination; but they may see it when it is too late. How men can proceed without any connexion at all, is to me utterly incomprehensible. He can do an infinite number of acts of generosity and kindness, and even of public spirit. This arbitrary standard they were not afraid to hold out to both Houses; while an idle and unoperative Act of Parliament, estimating the dignity of the Crown at 800,000l. Thus all the good effects of popular election were supposed to be secured to us, without the mischiefs attending on perpetual intrigue, and a distinct canvass for every particular office throughout the body of the people. The favour of the people might lead even to a disqualification of representing them. Therefore, when the chiefs were removed, in order to go to the root, the whole party was put under a proscription, so general and severe as to take their hard-earned bread from the lowest officers, in a manner which had never been known before, even in general revolutions. The King was intrusted with the deliberative choice and the election to office; the people had the negative in a Parliamentary refusal to support. Has this system provided better for the treatment becoming his high and sacred character, and secured the King from those disgusts attached to the necessity of employing men who are not personally agreeable? I have constantly observed, that the generality of people are fifty years, at least, behind-hand in their politicks. Every age has its own manners, and its politicks dependent upon them; and the same attempts will not be made against a constitution fully formed and matured, that were used to destroy it in the cradle, or to resist its growth during its infancy. No foreign habitudes or attachments withdrew him from the cultivation of his power at home. It were a folly well deserving servitude for its punishment, to be full of confidence where the laws are full of distrust; and to give to an House of Commons, arrogating to its sole resolution the most harsh and odious part of legislative authority, that degree of submission which is due only to the Legislature itself. Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents & Speeches: Burke, Edmund: Amazon.sg: Books. Popularity was to be rendered, if not directly penal, at least highly dangerous. It was called necessitudo sortis; and it was looked upon with a sacred reverence. When I see in any of these detached gentlemen of our times the angelic purity, power, and beneficence, I shall admit them to be angels. They ought not to trust the House of Commons with a power over their franchises: because the constitution, which placed two other coordinate powers to controul it, reposed no such confidence in that body. For there is a material distinction between that corruption by which particular points are carried against reason, (this is a thing which cannot be prevented by human wisdom, and is of less consequence) and the corruption of the principle itself. This situation, however aweful, is honourable. They certainly will abuse it; because all men possessed of an uncontrouled discretionary power leading to the aggrandisement and profit of their own body have always abused it: and I see no particular sanctity in our times, that is at all likely, by a miraculous operation, to overrule the course of nature. Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents and The Two Speeches on America book. At best we can only follow the spirit of their proceeding in other cases. For if the Ministry has 800,000l. That Government is at once dreaded and contemned; that the laws are despoiled of all their respected and salutary terrors; that their inaction is a subject of ridicule, and their exertion of abhorrence; that rank, and office, and title, and all the solemn plausibilities of the world, have lost their reverence and effect; that our foreign politicks are as much deranged as our domestic oeconomy; that our dependencies are flackened in their affection, and loosened from their obedience; that we know neither how to yield nor how to inforce; that hardly any thing above or below, abroad or at home, is found and entire; but that disconnexion and confusion, in offices, in parties, in families, in Parliament, in the nation, prevail beyond the disorders of any former time: these are facts universally admitted and lamented. Indeed there was wherewithall to charm every body, except those few who are not much pleased with professions of supernatural virtue, who know of what stuff such professions, are made, for what purposes they are designed, and in what they are sure constantly to end.
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