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some of his under agents, at every other board in the kingdom; who has had it in his power to dismiss, not only from every public employment, but even from the king's councils and presence, all those, let their rank be what it will, who have had the courage and honesty to oppose vigorously any of his measures. When I say this, my lords, I am convinced none of your lordships, I am sure no one without doors, will doubt that I mean Sir Robert Walpole; and this common fame, this general opinion, is a sufficient foundation for your lordships to point your address particularly at him. The weakness he has showed in the conduct of our public affairs, the general hatred he has incurred among the people of this kingdom, render it almost necessary for his majesty to remove him from his councils, lest the discontents of the people, which are as yet levelled against the minister only, should at last be converted into a general disaffection to his present majesty, and to his illustrious family.
SPEECH OF THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE, ON THE
My lords, that this house, or that either house of parliament, may address the crown for the removal of any minister, is a question I shall not contest with the noble lord who has made you this motion; but I must observe, that such a motion was never, so far as I can recollect, agreed to, but in troublesome and factious times, and that general charges or general accusations against ministers, without fixing upon any particular crime, or offering any sort of legal proof, have sometimes proved fatal to the king himself. The famous case of the Earl of Strafford in King Charles the First's time, ought to be a warning to all future kings, not to allow their ministers to be attacked in parliament upon general rumours, disgusts, or accusations. The par ticular circumstances of that case are so well known, that I need not recapitulate them to your lordships. The accusation against him consisted only of some general charges, unsupported by proper proofs; and every one knows that
the violent proceedings against that earl were attended with such consequences as ended in a catastrophe, which all good men detest and abhor.
The noble lord was pleased to tell us that an address to remove a minister from the king's councils and presence, can no way affect a man's person, freedom, or estate. My lords, I must beg leave to differ from the noble lord in this particular. Such an address would affect a minister's character, and whatever affects a man's character, must be allowed to affect his person. Do not men every day venture their lives for the sake of their character? Would not any man choose to lose his life, rather than live the infamy and reproach of his country? And shall we in this house attempt to inflict a punishment worse than death itself, upon a man against whom there is no particular crime so much as alleged, nor any proof offered but popular resentments, which are very often unjust, and general arguments, which, in my opinion, are far from being conclusive? My lords, it is easy to raise objections against public measures that have been transacted many years ago. It is impossible for human wisdom always to take the best course, and to make the best use of the common incidents that occur, or for human foresight to provide against the extraordinary incidents that may happen. Time and experience discover to the wisest of men many errors in their past conduct; and when cross accidents happen, every one is apt to imagine they might have been foreseen and provided against. This is obvious to every man, even in the transactions of private life; and as public transactions are much more intricate, and depend upon causes which never were, nor could be under our power or direction, therefore the errors and mistakes of those concerned, must be more frequent, and those measures may afterwards appear weak, which, at the time they were transacted, appeared to be the wisest that could be pursued. For this reason, when we are to judge of the wisdom or weakness of a minister's past conduct, we ought to consider the circumstances of affairs, and the appearance of things, as they stood at the time his measures were concerted; and if at that time they appeared to be the best, we are not from future accidents, or from a future view of
things, to condemn them, either as weak or wicked. We may, perhaps, find that our minister was not inspired with divine wisdom, but this can never be thought a good reason for our addressing the king to remove him from his
From these general observations, I hope your lordships will be convinced, that upon the present question you ought to view the public measures now objected to, in the same light in which they appeared to you at the time they were severally transacted; and I hope it will be allowed to be at least an argument in their favour, that every one of them was, after a close examination, approved of by a majority of this house, at the times they respectively happened.
Having now, I hope, my lords, removed all the objections that have been made to our conduct, so far as it relates to the balance of power, and the present situation of affairs in Europe, I shall take up but very little of your lordships' time, in answering the objections that have been made to that part of our conduct which relates to our affairs with Spain, or to our own domestic affairs. Our negotiations with Spain, my lords, were all along founded upon this principle, that as long as there was any hope of obtaining redress by peaceable means, we ought not to have recourse to arms. This principle will, I hope, be allowed to be right itself, and it has been all along approved of by parliament. Therefore, in those negotiations, his majesty has acted rather by the advice of his parliament, than by the advice of his ministers; at least, if it was the advice of his ministers, it was such as has been approved of and recommended by his parliament, which I must look on as a very strong argument in its favour; for I shall always have a much greater regard for the voice of parliament within doors, than for the clamours of the people without; and, for this reason, I must be of opinion, that a minister's wisdom and steadiness may sometimes be the cause of his becoming unpopular. In all countries, false notions, notions inconsistent with the public good, sometimes prevail among the generality of the people, especially when those notions are inculcated and propagated by a party who oppose the public measures, not because they are wrong, but because they do not like the men, or,
perhaps, because they are not the men that advise and carry them on. This, I say, often happens in every country, and in no case so commonly as in that which relates to peace or war. In such a case, a minister who looks into futurity, and steadily pursues the good of his country, in opposition to a prevailing clamour, may become very unpopular, and may continue so for some time; but when the people become cool, and have leisure to consider things seriously and maturely, that unpopularity will be converted into a general esteem, and he will be admired for his steadiness as well as for his wisdom; therefore it will be a very imprudent maxim for the sovereign, even of this free country, to dismiss a minister on account of any popular clamour that may arise, or be spirited up against him.
Now, my lords, with respect to our domestic affairs, as I have shown, that no objection can be justly made to any part of our conduct relating to foreign affairs, and as a great part of the expense we have been at, has been owing to the several broils we have been involved in with the other powers of Europe, if our debts are not greatly diminished, nor our taxes abolished, it is not owing to the weakness of our ministers, but to the extraordinary expense we have been from time to time put to; and to a restless disaffected party at home, which has all along obliged us to keep in pay a more numerous standing army than we should otherwise have had occasion for. And as to the severe penal laws that have been enacted, and the dangerous schemes that have been attempted, they relate only to the collection of the public revenue; therefore, if there be any severity in the laws, or if there was any danger in the schemes, both ought to be imputed to the wickedness of our smugglers and clandestine traders, and not to the weakness or wickedness of our ministers.
I hope, my lords, I have now shown that we have not the least occasion to address his majesty to remove any one of his ministers from his councils; and, therefore, I hope the motion will meet with the fate it deserves: I am sure I shall most heartily give it my negative.
LORD THURLOW'S REPLY TO THE DUKE OF GRAFTON.
[The duke had (in the house of lords) reproached Lord Thurlow with his plebeian extraction, and his recent admission to the peerage. Lord Thurlow rose from the woolsack, and advanced slowly to the place from which the chancellor addresses the house; then fixing his eye upon the duke, spoke as follows.]
My lords, I am amazed, yes, my lords, I am amazed at his grace's speech. The noble duke cannot look before him, behind him, or on either side of him, without seeing some noble peer, who owes his seat in this house to his successful exertions in the profession to which I belong. Does he not feel that it is as honourable to owe it to these, as to being the accident of an accident? To all these noble lords, the language of the noble duke is as applicable and as insulting as it is to myself. But I do not fear to meet it single and alone. No one venerates the peerage more than I do. But, my lords, I must say that the peerage solicited me, not I the peerage.
Nay, more, I can and will say, that, as a peer of parliament, as speaker of this right honourable house, as keeper of the great seal, as guardian of his majesty's conscience, as lord high chancellor of England, nay, even in that character alone, in which the noble duke would think it an affront to be considered, but which character none can deny me, as a MAN, I am at this moment as respectable, I beg leave to add, as much respected, as the proudest peer I now look down upon.
SPEECH OF PATRICK HENRY.
[Mr Henry was an American patriot, and distinguished himself by his speeches in favour of opposing Great Britain, at the breaking out of the revolutionary war.]
Mr President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that Syren, till she transforms us unto beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern our temporal salvation? For my part,