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stances and our resources: I mean to say a little more on the operations of the enemy, because this matter seems to me very natural in our present deliberation. When I look to the other side of the water, I cannot help recollecting what Pyrrhus said, on reconnoitring the Roman camp: —“ These barbarians'have nothing barbarous in their discipline.” When I look, as I have pretty carefully looked, into the proceedings of the French king, I am sorry to say -it, I see nothing of the character and genius of arbitrary finance, none of the bold frauds of bankrupt power, none of the wild struggles and plunges of despotism in distress,—-no lopping ofl" . from the capital of debt, no suspension of interest, no robbery under the name of loan, no raising the value, no debasing the substance of the coin. I see neither Louis the Fourteenth nor Louis the Fifteenth. On the contrary, I‘behold, with astonishment, rising before me, by the very hands of arbitrary power, and in the very midst of war and confusion, a regular, methodical . system of public credit; I behold a fabric laid on the natural and solid foundations of trust and confidence among men, and rising, by fair gradations, order over order, according to the just rules of symmetry and art. What a reverse of things! Principle, method, regularity, economy, frugality, justice to individuals, and care of the people are the resources with which France makes war upon Great Britain. God avert the omen! But if we should see any genius in war and politics arise in France to second what is done in the bureau! I turn my eyes from the consequences. The noble lord in the blue ribbon, last year, treated
all this with contempt. He never could conceive it von. 11. 18
possible that the French minister of finance could go through that year with a loan of but seventeen hundred thousand pounds, and that he should be able to fund that loan without any tax. The second year, however, opens the very same scene. A small loan, a loan of no more than two millions five hundred thousand pounds, is to carry our enemies through the service of this year also. No tax is raised to fund that debt; no tax is raised for the current services. 1 am credibly informed that there is no anticipar tion whatsoever. Compensations * are correctly made. Old debts continue to be sunk as in the time of profound peace. Even payments which their treasury had been authorized to suspend during the time of war are not suspended.
A general reform, executed through every department of the revenue, creates an annual income of more than half a million, whilst it facilitates and simplifies all the functions of administration. The king’s house hold —at the remotest avenues to which all reformation has been hitherto stopped, that household which has been the stronghold of prodigality, the virgin fortress which was never before attacked—has been not only not defended, but it has, even in the forms, been surrendered by the king to the economy of his minister. No capitulation; no reserve. Economy has entered in triumph into the public splendor of the monarch, into his private amusements, into the appointments of his nearest and highest relations. Economy and public spirit have made a beneficent ' and an honest spoil: they have plundered from ex
! This term comprehends various retributions made to persons whose offices are taken away, or who in any other way snfi'er by the new arrangements that are made.
travagance and luxury, for the use of substantial service, a revenue of near four hundred thousand pounds. The reform of the finances, joined to this reform of the court, gives to the public nine hundred thousand pounds ayear, and upwards.
The minister who does these things is a great man ; but the king who desires that they should be done is a far greater. We must do justice to our enemies: these are the acts of a patriot king. I am not in dread of the vast armies of France; I am not in dread of the gallant spirit of its brave and numerous nobility; I am not alarmed even at the great navy which has been so miraculously created. All these things Louis the Fourteenth had before. With all these things, the French monarchy has more than once fallen prostrate at the feet of the public faith of Great Britain. It was the want of public credit which disabled France from recovering after her defeats, or recovering even from her victories and triumphs. It was a prodigal court, it was an ill-ordered revenue, that sapped the foundations of all her greatness. Credit cannot exist under the arm of necessity. Necessity strikes at credit,I allow, with a heavier and quicker blow under an arbitrary monarchy than under a limited and balanced government; but still necessity and credit are natural enemies, and cannot be long reconciled in any situation. From necessity and corruption, a free state may lose the spirit of that complex constitution which is the foundation of confidence. On the other hand, I am far from being sure that 'a monarchy, when once it is properly regulated, may not for a long time furnish a foundation for credit upon the solidity of its maxims, though it afi'ords no ground of trust in its institutions. I am afraid I see in England, and in France, something like a beginning of both these things. I wish I may be found in a mistake.
This very short and very imperfect state of what is now going on in France (the last circumstances of which I received in about eight days after the registry of the edict *) I do not, Sir, lay before you for any invidious purpose. It is in order to excite in us the spirit of a noble emulation. Let the nations make war upon each other, (since we must make war,) not with a low and vulgar malignity, but by a competition of virtues. This is the only way by which both parties can gain by war. The French have imitated us : let us, through them, imitate ourselves,— ourselves in our better and happier days. If public frugality, under whatever men, or in whatever mode of govern ment, is national strength, it is a strength which our enemies are in possession of before us.
Sir, I am well aware that the state and the result of the French economy which I have laid before you are even now lightly treated by some who ought never to speak but from information. Pains have not been spared to represent them as impositions on the public. Let me tell you, Sir, that the creation of a navy, and a two years’ war without taxing, are a very singular species of imposture. But be it so. For what end does Necker carry on this delusion? Is it to lower the estimation of the crown he serves, and to render his own administration contemptible? No! No! He is conscious that the sense of mankind is so clear and decided in favor of economy, and of the weight and value of its resources, that he turns himself to every species of fraud and artifice to obtain the mere reputation of it. Men do not affect a conduct that tends to their discredit. Let us, then, get the better of Monsieur Necker in his own way ; let us do in reality what he does only in pretence; let us turn his French tinsel into English gold. Is, then, the mere opinion and appearance of frugality and good management of such use to France, and is the substance to be so mischievous to England? Is the very constitution of Nature so altered by a sea of twenty miles, that economy should give power on the Continent, and that profusion should give it here? For God’s sake, let not this be the only fashion of France which we refuse to copy!
* Edict registered 29th January, 1780.
To the last kind of necessity, the desires Of the people, I have but a very few words to say. The ministers seem to contest this point, and affect to doubt whether the people do really desire a plan of economy in the civil government. Sir, this is too ridiculous. It is impossible that they should not desire it. It is impossible that a prodigality which draws its resources from their indigence should be pleasing to them. Little factions 'of pensioners, and their dependants, may talk another language. But the voice of Nature is against them, and it will be heard. The people of England will not, they cannot, take it kindly, that representatives should refuse to their constituents what an absolute sovereign voluntarily Offers to his subjects. The expression of the petitions is, that, “before any new burdens are ‘laid upon this country, efl'ectual measures be taken by this Hbuse to inquire into and correct the gross abuses in the expenditure quublic money.”
This has been treated by the noble lord in the blue ribbon as a wild, factions language. It happens,