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hangmen and halters are unnecessary in a state, and that ministers may escape the reproach of destroying their enemies, by inciting them to destroy themselves.
This new method may, indeed, have upon different constitutions a different operation; it may destroy the lives of some, and the senses of others; but either of these effects will answer the purposes of the ministry, to whom it is indifferent, provided the nation becomes insensible, whether pestilence or lunacy prevails among them. Either mad or dead the greatest part of the people must quickly be, or there is no hope of the continuance of the present ministry.
For this purpose, my lords, what could have been invented more efficacious than an establishment of a certain number of shops, at which poison may
be vended; poison so prepared as to please the palate
, while it wastes the strength, and only kills by intoxi
. cation? From the first instant that any of the enemies of the ministry shall grow clamorous and turbulent, a crafty hireling may lead him to the ministerial slaughterhouse, and ply him with their wonder-working liquor, till he is no longer able to speak or think; and, my lords, no man can be more agreeable to our ministers, than he that can neither speak nor think, except those who speak without thinking.
But, my lords, the ministers ought to reflect, that though all the people of the present age are their ene; mies, yet they have made no trial of the temper inclinations of posterity. Our successours may
be of opinions very different from ours; they may perhaps approve of wars on the continent, while our plantations are insulted and our trade obstructed; they may think the support of the house of Austria of more importance to us than our own defence; and may perhaps so far differ from their fathers, as to imagine the treasures of Britain very properly employed in sup. porting the troops, and increasing the splendour, of a foreign electorate.
Whatever, my lords, be the true reason for which this bill is so warmly promoted, I think they ought
, at least, to be deliberately examined; and therefore
cannot think it consistent with our regard for the nation, to suffer it to be precipitated into a law. The year, my lords, is not so far advanced but that supplies may be raised by some other method, if this should be rejected. Nor do I think that we ought to consent to this, even though our refusal should hinder the supplies, since we have no right, for the sake of any ad . vantage, however certain or great, to violate all the laws of heaven and earth, and to fill the exchequer with the price of the lives of our fellow subjects.
Let us, therefore, my lords, not suffer ourselves to be driven forward with such haste, as may hinder us from observing whither we are going. Let us not be persuaded to precipitate our counsels, by those who know that all delays are detrimental to their designs, because delays may produce new information; and they are conscious that the bill will be the less appro. ved, the more it is understood.
But every reason which they can offer against the motion is, in my opinion, a reason for it; and therefore I shall readily agree to postpone the clause, and no less readily to reject the bill.
If, at last, reason and evidence are vain; if neither justice nor compassion can prevail; but the nation must be destroyed for the support of the government; let us at least, my lords, confine our assertions, in the preamble, to truth. Let us not affirm that drunken. ness is established by the advice or consent of the lords spiritual; since I am confident not one of them will so far contradict his own doctrine, as to vote for a bill which gives a sanction to one vice, and ministers opportunities and temptations to all others, and which, if it be not speedily repealed, will overflow the whole nation with a deluge of wickedness.
LORD BELHAVEN'S SPEECH,
IN THE SCOTCH CONVENTION, AGAINST THE UNION.
AFTER an arduous struggle, and by the most dexterous management on the part of the commissioners appointed for the purpose, the treaty of union between England and Scotland was finally concluded, and from the first of May 1707, the two kingdoms became indissolubly incorporated.
This wise and salutary measure had to encounter in every step of its progress, the sturdy pride, the haughty spirit of independence, and all the force of national prejudice incident to the Scotch character.
Among the most formidable of the opposition, both on account of the mighty sway of his talents, and the resoluteness of his temper, was the earl of Belhaven. Conceiving, in common with many other distinguished men, and a clear majority of the nation, that in the loss of her independent legislature, his country would experience a train of cala. mities, not more destructive to her prosperity, than degrading to her dignity, he waged a resistance to the hateful project with a constancy which the weight of regal influence could not shake, nor the pledge of honours and rewards seduce, or the snares of in. trigue or artifice surprise.
The ensuing speech discloses his sentiments and his fears. Like the tremulous solicitudes of many other ardent patriots they proved to be visionary.
Not one of the groupe of misfortunes which he beheld through the vista of futurity was realized. The act of union on the contrary, gave wealth, and happi. ness, and strength to Scotland, and guarantied the grandeur and safety of the British empire.
MY LORD CHANCELLOR,
WHEN I consider the affair of a union betwixt the two nations, as it is expressed in the several articles thereof, and now the subject of our deliberation at this time, I find my mind crowded with a variety of melancholy thoughts; and I think it my duty to disburthen myself of some of them by laying them before, and exposing them to the serious consideration of this honourable house.
I think I see a free and independent kingdom delivering up that which all the world hath been fighting for since the days of Nimrod; yea, that for which most of all the empires, kingdoms, states, principalities, and dukedoms of Europe, are at this time engaged in the most bloody and cruel wars that ever were: to wit, a power to manage their own affairs by themselves, without the assistance and counsel of
I think I see a national church, founded upon a rock, secured by a claim of right, hedged and fenced about by the strictest and most pointed legal sanction that sovereignty could contrive, voluntarily descend. ing into a plain, upon an equal level with Jews, Pa. pists, Socinians, Arminians, Anabaptists, and other sectaries.
I think I see the noble and honourable peerage of Scotland, whose valiant predecessors led armies against their enemies upon their own proper charges and expense, now devested of their followers and vassalages, and put upon such an equal foot with their vassals, that I think I see a petty English exciseman receive more homage and respect than what was paid formerly to their quondam Mackallamores.