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strongly recommended that the Council, without indulging in irrelevant digressions, should proceed to the fuller and more detailed consideration of their plan; and that every member should give his individual opinion, with regard to the objects proper to be pursued, and the particular duties which he was himself ready to perform. The whole project, he observed, was at present vague and undefined not to say incoherent and confused; a prospect which had been seen only in detached parts, and by occasional glimpses; a mere outline, which was itself lost in shadowy indistinct
He thought, however, before any thing else could be said or done, that it would be necessary to settle, once for all, the great and fundamental principles, by which their conduct would be uniformly regulated; and, in the first place their political principles. “ Ay,” said the projector, “ what line of politics shall we adopt?” “ If my opinion is of any weight,” replied the President, “ I should answer in two words—our own. But you are all ready to exclaim, that such an indefinite expression, which is exactly what any ten men whatever would naturally use, and with as much reason as ourselves, will not carry us many steps in advance, or bring us much nearer to the point. I will explain myself. I mean, then, that we should not only preserve our sentiments independent and unshackled, but make it our ambition to lead, rather than to follow; that we must bind ourselves by a fixed and unalterable determination never to become the organ or mouth-piece of any party in church or state-the tool or instrument of any person in the kingdom, however exalted in rank, or dignified by talents, or invested with authority. I would further say, that we should invariably make and keep up in our minds a distinction between the established government and the ministers of the day; let us support the government always, the ministers when our judgments and consciences permit us." " These," said the Political Economist, “ are excellent notions in theory; but, as the world goes, are they practicable in the execution ?” “ Practicable!” replied the President, “ few things are impracticable to men, who pursue a worthy object with honesty and resolution: and in this case where is the difficulty? There can be none, so 66 Sir,
long as the measures of the ministry are in unison with the spirit of that constitution which we have received, as our best inheritance from our forefathers, and hope to transmit unimpaired to our posterity. But when the conduct of the ministers is such as to bring the government into disrepute, we may still support the government, and leave the ministers, as they ought, and as they must, to sink by themselves.” “ Lord Londonderry will not thank us for such support; he hates neutrality in politics.” have none of us, I believe, the slightest feelings of disrespect for Lord Londonderry; but we would rather earn the good estimation of the country than the thanks of his lordship.” “On the other hand, again, this is not the method to ingratiate ourselves with the opposition: the world, too, will say, after all, that we have a sneaking kindness for the ministers, and, perhaps, that we are paid the more for making pretensions to impartiality.” “ Paid-paid! that is a hard word; but we must do our duty: and let the world say what it pleases.” “ Certainly,” answered our Political Economist; “but we must remember that, at this rate, we are not journeying on the high road of preferment. I shall make myself most intelligible by a familiar illustration. At the morning of a drawing-room, or on any other particular occasion, we have often seen two strings of carriages moving slowly, but surely, along in parallel lines, either in the same or opposite directions
s; now, if any adventurous coachman throws himself between the two, with the hope of dashing forward in a rapid and brilliant style, the consequence is sure to be, that he is heartily abused by the charioteers on both sides finds himself fixed immoveably in the middle, utterly unable to proceed, is in some danger of being crushed, or, at all events, is placed in as inconvenient and awkward a position as can well be imagined; and at last is compelled to wait till all the carriages have passed on, and then attach himself ignominiously to the very rear of the one line or the other. Such is the case with those who hope to steer between two parties, and take an intermediate line in politics." " Your illustration is a very just one," replied the President, smiling, “ as it regards the anxious competitors who run the race of promotion, who are panting and straining every nerve to reach the goal of honour or emolument; and, pushing forward to a place, an office, or a pension, as the prize of victory in their Olympic games : but in such games we, like Alexander, must disdain to contend. We are something better than these competitors, or we are nothing. It must be our business to overlook the course, and decide between contending claims; to observe whether the race is fairly and honourably contested; to be arbiters and umpires, rather than meddlers in the fray. Moreover, to speak without metaphor, we need not surely attach ourselves to any party, when our attention, our labours, and our resources, are devoted to the attainment of objects, in which honest men of all parties may concurin which honest men of all parties ought to concur." - We shall be left, then, to ourselves, I fear,” said the same member of our Council; 66 for where will be our polar-star, as we are tumbling about in the ocean of politics? to whom shall we look up as our guide and patron ?" 6. To the King," answered the President, firmly; “ if we are wrong, we can shelter ourselves under the authority of majesty: the King has shewn himself to be the head of the state, and not the leader of a party. In his constitutional capacity, he has, of course, supported the ministers of the crown; but in his personal demeanour he has made no distinctions between Whig and Tory; and has always endeavoured, in England as in Ireland, to promote the spirit of union and harmony among all parties, and their sincere and cordial co-operation for the common welfare. At our humble distance, what should prevent us from pursuing the same course, from holding the same tenets and the same principles; and resolving never to range ourselves, without necessity, under the banner of any leader in the political and civil contests of the day. I know well to what we shall expose ourselves by such professions ; but we must not be deterred by the fear of paltry cavils and wretched insinuations from doing justice, even to a Sovereign; or from following a good example, although it should be set us from the Throne. This is no courtly adu. lation; it is but the simple mention of a circumstance relating to the conduct of the first person in the kingdom, which every other man in it has long acknowledged and admired. We, perhaps, transgress the strict limits of decorum, by speaking of that personage with so much freedom and plainness of manner; and, assuredly, we have too high an opinion of his Majesty's taste, to suppose that he will feel gratified or flattered by a compliment, which must be paid him at the expense of so many of his subjects.
“ Allow me, then," continued the Censor, “ to repeat my former expression, and recommend once more, that our political opinions should be entirely our own; even although they should not be calculated to advance us to the summit of political fortune; to make our Clergyman a Bishop, or our Merchant a Government Contractor, or our Political Economist Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the rest of us Lords of the Treasury, or of the Admiralty, or myself, your President, Chairman of any Board, besides the one which I have now the honour to address. If, therefore, there be any individual among us, who thinks of weighing our undertaking in the balance of profit and loss, or who cannot bring himself to consider his individual gain, as an object of secondary and subordinate importance, he will do well, perhaps, while he has still the opportunity, to withdraw himself from our association. Again, if there be any individual among us, who is bound to a party, or a political patron, by the ties of personal obligation; who has any fetter on his opinion, or any padlock on his tongue, that man, I conceive, will find his place irksome and uncomfortable in the Council of Ten. Where, on the one side, the hazard is great, the difficulty and the drudgery certain and immediate; and, on the other, the prospect of advantage or reward obscure and distant, our project would be most unwise, if viewed only as a matter of calculation or interest; and where we must either deliver our sentiments with perfect freedom on every occasion, which may demand our scrutiny, or be silent at once and for ever, it will allow no compromise between duty to the public and regard for individuals. But these remarks, as I ought to be aware, are idle and superfluous; there is no single member, it appears, who feels a necessity or a disposition
to leave us on either of these grounds.” “ None.” “With regard, then, to the line of politics, which we shall adopt, I have spoken the opinion of the whole Council in general ?” « Of the whole Council.” “ Of every particular member of the Council ?” “Of every member, without exception." The Political Economist gave his assent with the rest, and observed, that his previous suggestions had been thrown out merely with a view to prevent extravagant expectations, or misconception as to the nature of their plan; and, in order that they might proceed in the prosecution of it, with their eyes open to the obstacles which they were likely to encounter. The Projector declared, that, for his part, he hated any thing like cold, cautious calculation, in matters where the public interest was concerned; that what a wary timidity trembled at undertaking, a noble enthusiasm would often successfully perform; and as for obstacles, and impediments, and hazards, they reminded him of the story of Marraton in the Spectator, who, at first, imagined that “ he could not enter the world of spirit by reason of a thick forest, made up of bushes, brambles, and pointed thorns, so perplexed and interwoven with one another, that it was impossible to find a passage through it, together with a huge lion couched under the side of it ;" but who, when he marched steadily onwards, “ found that the lion had no power to hurt him, and that the bushes made no resistance; but that he walked through briers and brambles with the same ease as through the open air : and, in short, that the whole wood was nothing else but a wood of shades.".
66 In the same way," continued the Projector, “ if we manfully face the difficulties.” How long he would have gone on with this and other magnificent sentences of a similar import it is impossible to determine ; as the Traveller called him to order, and the general impatience of the Council put an end to his harangue.
The President, having gently hinted to the Projector, that the warmth of his patriotism had hurried him into a digression; and having remarked, that their political principles seemed settled to the satisfaction of all, next inquired on what other subject it would be necessary for them to lay down any established maxims at the outset. “ It strikes