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from the majesty of his nature he scorns their weak and foolish attempts.
The editor has in different places ventured an anonymous paragraph, which we may fairly presume to be of his own compofition, and of which it may be said, that they neither do their author credit or discredit.
Art. IV. The Beauties of the British Senate : Taken from the Debates
of the Lords and Commons, from the Beginning of the Administration of Sir Robert Walpole, to the End of the Second Sellion of the Administration of the Right Hon. William Pitt: Being an impartial Selection of, or faithful Extracts from, the most eminent Speeches delivered in the Course of a most important and truly interesting period of more than fifty Years; Jezerally arranged under their respeãtive Heads, with the Names of the Members to whom they are ascribed annexed thereton. To which is prefixed the Life of Sir Robert Walpole. Two Volumes,
8vo. 1os. boards. Scockdale. 1786. London. THE
HE hacknied name of Beauties, and the uncommon clum
siness of the title-page, dis; ose us beforehand to entertain an opinion that the editor of this collection from the parliamentary debates is not distinguished by fuperior taste and judgment. This prejudice is confirmed by a perufal of the collection, in which, with many excellent orations, the dullest and most infipid, and even the most childish, are interspersed. This position we would prove by a multitude of instances, if we did not think it indelicate, and even unjust, to exhibit very respectable characters in the light of simple orato:s, when, perhaps, they never entertained the ambition of having their speeches made public : did they publish, as Mi. Burke and Governor Johnstone, and others do, their own speeches, they would be amenable to public criticisın. As they are dragged into print by newsmongers, compilers, and booksellers, it would be unfair to decide concerning their merits, either as orators or statesmen. But of the history of the reports of parliamentary debates we have already given a sketch in our review of Mr. Woodfall's report of the debates in the Irith parliament, on the subject of the commercial regulations.
Many of the members of parliament, we understand, now write their own speeches : and, as there is a p:ogress in every thing, this custom will undoubtedly become daily more and more prevalent. Hence many important consequences will arise to the state of society, and to government. It is plain, to any person who has been accustomed to attend the debates in parliament, that there is, especially in the SPEAKER of the House of Commons, (we do not mean Mr. Cornwall, but
every speaker) and all who are most zealous for the usages, privileges, and dignity of parliament, a very great jealousy of the reports of the debates in newspapers. They are eager to Thew, on every occasion, how little credit is due to such reports; and how unparliamentary it is to allude to them. But the anxiety of members to correct the mistakes of the reporters, both in the newspapers, and viva voce in parliament, is a proof that those reports are not, by any means, objects of indifference. And, as the practice of members of parliament writing their own speeches gains ground, the reports of the debates will gain more and more credit
, as they will be more and more authentic. Members will become as solicitous to approve what they say to the public, by means of the press, as they are now to draw over majorities in parliament to their opinions. Every bill, and whatever elle relates to the business of parliament, is now printed ; and every thing of note, that is said in parliament, is also printed, and, by means of the press, circulated over the whole empire. The power of the press is already great, and, it would leem, has not yet reached its full extent. This aspect of affairs is favourable, in the highest degree, to liberty. By means of the press there is a constant appeal to the people themselves from those who represent them in parliament.
It is usual for some people, said Sir Robert Walpole, in the year 1734, to make motions, rather to fix unpopular things on others, than to have any information for themselves : they make motions in order to make a figure in the votes, which are sent to all parts of the nation. What would Sir Robert say, were he now to rise from his grave, and see whole newspapers, magazines, &c. &c. filled almost with nothing else than the debates of parliament !
It is obvious, to every reader of any taste or difcernment, that the speeches in this collection, which are first in the order of time, are also, on the whole, the first in order of merit. The speeches that were made in the last reign, and in the beginning of this, are, in general, beyond all comparison, more nervous, claffical, and pointed, than those that have been made, or at least that have been published, within the last ten or twelve years. Whether this is owing to the speakers, or to the reporters, we shall not determine. In former times speeches were dressed up, by men of taste and genius, in the closet's now they are given to the public, on the spur of occafion, with vast rapidity, at great length, and with a considerable degree, and, in some publications, with a wonderful degree of accuracy. Formerly the publishers of the speeches in parliament.improved their subjects ; now they adhere more lite
rally to the truth, and, for that reason, present a less finished picture to the reader.
It deserves also to be remarked, that, in the last reign, there were not, by any means, so many speakers in parliament as there are at present; and also, that the speakers of those times were more studious than they are now of brevity. IC is true, also, that all speeches were not then, as they are now, published indiscriminately, but those only of the most eminenc speakers.
The speeches, in the collection before us, are arranged under the following heads, in alphabetical order. Address to the Throtre ; Anecdote ; Attack; American Affairs; Army; Bribery ; Civil List; Commerce and Revenue; Defence; Eloquence; East India Affairs; Freedom of Election ; Humour; Liberty of the Subject; Peace; Parliamentary Reform; Remarkable sayings ; Satire ; Simile; Taxation ; Tumults and Riots; War; Wit.- On all these subjects fome excellent speeches are collected: but the compiler has neglected to introduce others of equal, if not, in fume instances, of superior excellence, while he has tarnished his compilation, and reflected disgrace, as far as such a compiler can reflect disgrace, on our parliament, by representing nonsense, absurdity, dull and farfetched attempts at wit, and mere common-place observations, and other deformities, as beauties; and The Beauties, too; as if these were the greatest, or the only beauties of the British fenate,
Agreeably to what we have already observed concerning the unfairness of criticising the spurious and unauthenticated productions that are ascribed to different speakers, we shall forbear to prove, by examples, the miserable taste and judgment of our compiler. Under the head of Tumults and Riots, the only speech given is one of Lord Carteret's, 1737 ; although it is universally confessed, that never was a speech more luminous, more convincing, more affecting, more surprising; or more seasonable, than that made in the House of Peers by Lord Mansfield, when a motion was made, or at leaft a quel tion was started, concerning an act of indemnity to those ministers, and officers, and soldiers, who quelled what is commonly called Lord George Gordon's mob, in 1780. If our compiler had poffeffed a larger thare of discernment, he would have been sensible, that, to lay before his readers the fendiments of great men of different periods, on similar subjects, is what would naturally, above all other things, be expected in such a publication as that under review.
It will be proper to exemplify, by an instance or two, what we have advanced concerning the compatative merit of the printed speeches of the last, and those of the present reign.
The Duke of Argyle, on the subject of the insolence of the Spaniards, on the 23d of Feb. 1739, delivered his sentiments as follows:
• My lords, as I neither speak from pamphlets nor papers, I can. not precisely tell your lordships how long I shall trouble you on this occasion; it is an affair of as great importance, I will venture to say, as ever came before this house, I have, my lords, employed a great deal of my time in endeavouring to form a right judgment of it. I have examined it without prejudice; I have endeavoured to find something in it that might be justified ; I have viewed it, my lords, in all the bet lights it was capable of; but fill, my lords, the more
I fider, the more I view it, the more disgraceful, the more deformed, does this convention appear,
• I have known, my lords, I have read of measures of this kind, that were, indeed, generally disliked by the people, and were difadvantageous to the nation; but still, my lords, the ministers who carried on and concluded fuch measures had something to say in their justification. The weakness of the nation, the conveniency of trade, the strength of our neighbours, or some confideration of that kind, was always pleaded as an excuse : and sometimes, though a treaty was, in the main, disagreeable or dishonourable to the nation, yet there were certain particular clauses, some advantages ftipulated, which, if they did not balance, served at least to excuse the rest. But, my lords, this convention is not only disagreeable to every body without doors, but it does not contain one article that can be wrested to have so much as a favourable aspect for this nation. To what, my lords, can this be owing? Is it owing to the weakness of the nation ? Not at all: this nation is not weak; she has strength suffi. cient to crush that power that crushes her. "If she is poor, my lords, the government feels none of it ; for our minifters are as largely supplied with treasure as those ministers were, under whom this nation isade the power, that now insults us, to tremble. Our troops, my lords, are more numerous, better clothed than those troops were, who once conquered this infolent neighbour, and filled her throne with a monarch of our own making. I see many lords here, who, I am sure, remember those glorious times; and if, my lords, at that time, any one had ventured to foretel that this nation would soon be reduced to the necessity of negociating, tor the space of eighteen or twenty years, to obtain such a treaty as this is, was there a man in the whole nation that would have believed him?
· Have our ministers, my lords, ought to plead in favour of this measure, because it is for the convenience of trade? My lords, every body, who understands what trade is, knows, that if this convention is approved of by parliament, our trade must be irretrievably ruined.
• Can it be pleaded, my lords, that our enemies are so strong, that we ought, in policy, to yield a little to their rumours ? No; our enemies are weak; they are strong only in our fears. We, my lerds, are masters of that element whereon the cause muft be decided; and let all our enemieseither professed or fecret, nay, let all the
keutral powers in Europe unite their naval force, we have a fleet now at sea that is able to beat them all. But, my lords, do we behave as if we had any such superiority ? Have we so much as asserted the honour of the British Aag? Have we not tamely given it up: given it up without the least reason, so far as appears to the world? What the reasons of our minifters may be, my lords, for this pufillanimity, I am entirely ignorant; and as I am ignorant, I am innocent ; for, my lords, though I am a privy counsellor, I am as unacquainted with the secrets of the government as any private gentleman who hears me.'
This speech may be considered as an exhortation to war: The following by the Earl of Chatham, delivered January 20th, 1775, is an exhortation of another kind.
• There are two things which ministry have laboured to deceive the people in, and have persuaded them to ; first, that it was an affair of Bofton only, and that the very appearance of one single regiment there would quiet every thing.
• I have foretold the falsehood of both; I was conversant with that country more years, perhaps, than any man; I knew the cause of Boston would be made the cause of America ; I knew the mode of the military would not be effectual.
• The manner of proceeding against Boston, was a proscription of a people unheard ;--unheard in any court, either in the common courts of justice, or the higher, of parliament, in both of which, evidence of facts are stated in proof of criminality ; but the Americans were denied to be heard. The people of America condemned, and not heard, have a right to resist.
• By whose advice vindi&tive counsels were pursued-by whose advice false representations were made--by whole advice malice and illwill were made principles of governing a free people; all these are questions that will be asked. I mean no personal charge on any man further than his misdoings call for.
• There ought to be some instant proceeding towards a settlement before meeting of the delegates. My object is to put the foot on the threshold of peace, and to show an intention of reconciling; I will, unless I am fixed to a lick bed-I will attend this business throughout, till I see America obtain what I think satisfaction for her injuries - still attentive that she shall own the supremacy of this country,
• It would be my advice to his majesty to end this quarrel the foanelt poflible; his repose is our duty. Who by mis-advice had planted a thorn in his fide, by a contest with a people determined on their purpose ?
• I wish to offer myself, mean as I am, I have a plan, a plan of a settlement ; folid, honourable, and latting.
• America means only to have safety in property and personal li berty. These and these only were her object. Independency was falsely charged on her.
• 1 disclaim all metaphysical distinctions.
• The declaratory act leaves you a right to take their money when you please.