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STATE OF THE NATION.
JULY 11th, 1817.
Mr. BROUGHAM moved an Address on the State of the Nation. The following extracts embrace the leading topics of the Address.
“That it is with deep concern that we observe in every part of His Royal Highness's dominions nearly the same pressure of distress, which at the beginning of the session was lamented as unparalleled in the history of the country; and that although we are disposed to hope that some portion of the evil may be temporary, we should trifle with His Royal Highness did we not declare our fixed opinion, that the changes which have happened in the world will prove permanently ruinous to a great part of our foreign commerce, if they are not counteracted by corresponding alterations in our commercial policy, and by the extension of our intercourse with countries removed from the influence of our rivals; but that we have heard with surprise and regret, from His Royal Highness's advisers, an avowal of principles,
which remove to a hopeless distance all expectations of seeing so salutary a system adopted; that we find that they dare not oppose themselves to the conflict of the mercantile interests, by which they represent themselves to be surrounded; that to the menaces and importunities of individuals they sacrifice their own declared opinions: and that, instead of anxiously seeking for the means of restoring the healthful state of British commerce, they remain passive spectators of its progressive decline, and abandon their duty towards the whole empire, in order to escape the interested clamours of a few.
“That, while the measures of His Royal Highness's advisers at home are calculated to afford no relief either to the labouring finances of the state, or the insupportable sufferings of our countrymen, we regret to observe, that a course of policy has been pursued towards foreign states, at once injurious to the prosperity, and degrading to the character of the nation : on the one hand, we see, with humiliation, that all the blood and treasure so lavishly bestowed, and all the triumphs of our arms, have failed to secure to us the most ordinary share of influence with the very powers which owe their existence to our efforts,--while, on the other, we perceive with shame and disgust the authority of the British name prostituted to sanction every abuse of power; every invasion of national independence; every encroachment upon popular rights; and that lately we have witnessed, nearly at the same time, the humbling sight of British merchants oppressed, without the hopes of redress, by a petty tyrant (the King of Sardinia,) whom our influence had raised to power, and an authorized British Minister joining in the bootless persecution of an unoffending individual, for the purpose of courting more powerful sovereigns.
“ That it is a farther consequence of the same false principles, and the same imbecility, which mark the administration of our foreign affairs, that laying down no certain line of conduct respecting the intercourse with South America, but swayed by the groundless prejudices against colonial rights, which have survived the first American war, His Royal Highness's advisers have succeeded in disconcerting the commercial plans of our own countrymen, and exciting the universal distrust of the independent party, while they have failed in giving satisfaction to the Spanish and Portuguese Governments : nor can we refrain from lamenting, that, after the unparalleled sacrifices made to preserve the existence of those dynasties, it should be found impossible to obtain from them a renunciation of the execrable traffic in human flesh, carried on, by their authority, to an extent beyond all former example, and very far surpassing, in its repugnance to the law of nations, the French aggressions against themselves, which we interfered to repel.
“ That when indeed we recollect the prodigious efforts made by this country during the late contest, and contemplate the intolerable burthens which they have entailed upon all classes of His Royal Highness's subjects, however gratifying may be the reflection, that the triumphs of our arms exalted the character of the British nation, it is truly painful to mark the truth which every day's experience forces upon our belief, that the fruit of those costly victories hath been thrown away by the incapacity of His Royal Highness's confidential advisers: even the arrangement of the Continent, which they claimed as their own, and boasted would be permanent, offers no prospect of stability to counterbalance the narrowness of the principles on which it was founded, and the profligacy of the means by which it was effected : for, besides the weakness naturally inherent in every such transaction, and the universal discontent of the people, whose interests have been sacrificed to it, we observe the greater continental powers rather extending their armaments than
returning to peaceable pursuits;—the inferior sovereigns striving to follow their example; and leagues of a mysterious nature, with unexplained views, taking place of the ancient and known relations between friendly states, while Great Britain, instead of trusting for her influence to the weight of her high character, the popularity of pure and liberal principle, the knowledge of her commanding resources, and above all the incalculable effect of her entire disinterestedness, has been involved in all the intrigues of foreign courts, has submitted to take her rank among them as a second-rate military power, and adopted a system of constant intermeddling, beneath her dignity, as it is destructive of her authority; and that we observe with astonishment and regret, that in order still more effectually to ensure the failure of such schemes, their execution has in many instances been intrusted to incapable hands, according to the novel and reprehensible plan, which seems to be followed, of bestowing the higher patronage of the foreign department upon persons recommended by family connection or by military rank, and rewarding with its inferior posts the basest species of political service.
“But that when we turn from surveying the effects of mismanagement upon our national wealth and our influence abroad, to contemplate the blows which have been sustained by the civil and religious liberties of His Royal Highness's faithful subjects, we are filled with a concern so much the deeper, by how much those interests are inestimably dearer to a free people: that to serve the unworthy purposes of a court intrigue, for diminishing the influence of some distinguished men, and widening the difference that unhappily divides others from His Royal Highness's confidence, we have seen the attempt, already partially successful, to revive the senseless clamours of a misguided multitude against His Royal Highness's Roman Catholic subjects, and to