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Pension“. I Slutningen af 1794 tilbød nemlig Regjeringen ham en Pension, og da han havde modtaget denne sildige Anerkjendelse af sit Land for et langt Livs uegennyttige Arbeide i dets Tjeneste, tog den unge Hertug af Bedford, Whigoppositionens Fører i Overhuset, heraf Anledningen til at rette et vædelt Angreb imod ham. Burke besvarede Angrebet i det berømte Brev (1796), som aldrig bleven givet hans Minde af nogen, der bærer Familienavnet Russel. Af dette Skrift meddeles nedenfor det Afsnit, hvori han udfører en Sammenligning mellem sig selv og Hertugen af Bedford, og det gribende Sted, hvor han skildrer sin dybe Smerte over Tabet af den elskede Søn.
Allerede i 1768 havde Burke kjøbt en Eiendom, Gregories, i Landsbyen Beaconsfield'i Buckinghamshire*), hvor han pleiede at tilbringe Parlamentsferierne, og hvor han tog stadigt Ophold, da han havde forladt Parlamentet. Her endte han ogsaa sit daadrige, stormfulde Liv den 9de Juli 1797 i sit 69de Aar, og blev, overensstemmende med den af ham selv i hans sidste Villie givne Anordning, bisat i Landsbyens Kirke, i den samme Grav, som indesluttede hans forudgangne Søn og Broder. En Ildebrand har siden tilintetgjort Stedet, og der er nu intet andet end Ruiner tilbage af det Hjem, som engang husede en af sin Tids, og alle Tiders, største, bedste og viseste Mænd.
*) I et Brev til sin gamle Lærer Shackleton skriver han den 1ste Mai 1768: „Again elected
on the same interest (for Wendover, af Lord Verney) I have made a push, with all I could collect of my own, and the aid of my friends, to cast a little root in this country. I have purchased a house. with an estate of about six hundred acres of land, in Buckinghamshire, twenty-four miles from London, where I now am. It is a place exceedingly pleasant; and I propose (God willing) to become a farmer in good earnest.“ Kjøbet var vistnok en Nødvend ghed for hans politiske Stilling, og blev istandbragt ved Midler, han havde arvet efter Faderen og en Broder, i Forening med en betydelig Hjælp fra Lord Rockingham.
FROM SPEECHES AT BRISTOL.
1. Relation of Representatives to their constituents. (From Speech to the Electors of Bristol on his being elected one of the
Representatives in Parliament for that City, November 3, 1774.)
I am sorry I cannot conclude without saying a word on a topic touched upon by my worthy colleague. I wish that topic had been passed by at a time when I have so little leisure to discuss it. But since he has thought proper to throw it out, I owe you a clear explanation of my poor sentiments on that subject.
He tells you, that »the topic of instructions has occasioned much altercation and uneasiness in this city;« and he expresses himself (if I understand him rightly) in favour of the coercive authority of such instructions.
Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion high respect; their business unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But, his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
My worthy colleague says, his will ought to be subservient to yours. If that be all, the thing is innocent. If government were a matter of will upon any side, yours, without question, ought to be superior. But government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and what sort of reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion; in which one set of men deliberate, and another decide; and where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments?
To deliver an opinion, is the right of all men; that of constituents is a weighty and respectable opinion, which a representative ought always to rejoice to hear; and which he ought always most seriously to consider. But authoritative instructions; mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for,
contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and conscience, – these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, and which arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole order and tenor of our constitution.
Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament. If the local constituent should have an interest, or should form an hasty opinion, evidently opposite to the real good of the rest of the community, the member for that place ought to be as far, as any other, from any endeavour to give it effect. I beg pardon for saying so much on this subject. I have been unwillingly drawn into it; but I shall ever use a respectful frankness of communication with you. Your faithful friend, your devoted servant, I shall be to the end of my life: a flatterer you do not wish for. On this point of instructions, however, I think it scarcely possible we ever can have any sort of difference. Perhaps I may give you too much, rather than too little, trouble.
From the first hour I was encouraged to court your favour, to this happy day of obtaining it, I have never promised you any thing but humble and persevering endeavours to do my duty. The weight of that duty, I confess, makes me tremble; and whoever well considers what it is, of all things in the world, will fly from what has the least likeness to a positive and precipitate engagement.
To be a good member of parliament, is, let me tell you, no easy task; especially at this time, when there is so strong a disposition to run into the perilous extremes of servile compliance or wild popularity. To unite circumspection with vigour, is absolutely necessary; but it is extremely difficult. We are now members for a rich commercial city; this city, however, is but a part of a rich commercial nation, the interests of which are various, multiform, and intricate. We are members for that great nation, which, however, is itself but part of a great empire', extended by our virtue and our fortune to the farthest limits of the east and of the west. All these widespread interests must be considered; must be compared; must be reconciled, if possible. We are members for a free country; and surely we all know, that the machine of a free constitution is no simple thing; but as intricate and as delicate as it is valuable. We are members in a great and ancient monarchy; and we must preserve religiously the true legal rights of the sovereign, which form the key-stone that binds together the noble and well-constructed arch of our empire and our constitution. A constitution made up of balanced powers must ever be a critical thing. As such I mean to touch that part of it which comes within my reach. I know my inability, and I wish for support from every quarter. In particular I shall aim at the friendship, and shall cultivate the best correspondence, of the worthy colleague you have given me.
2. Opinion of the People.
September 6, 1780.) As to the opinion of the people, which some think, in such cases, is to be implicitly obeyed; nearly two years' tranquillity, which followed the act, and its instant imitation in Ireland, proved abundantly, that the late horrible spirit was, in a great measure, the effect of insidious art, and perverse industry, and gross misrepresentation. But suppose that the dislike had been much more deliberate, and much more general than I am persuaded it was — when we know, that the opinions of even the greatest multitudes are the standard of rectitude, I shall think myself obliged to make those opinions the masters of my conscience. But if it may be doubted whether Omnipotence itself is competent to alter the essential constitution of right and wrong, sure I am, that such things, as they and I, are possessed of no such power. No man carries further than I do the policy of making government pleasing to the people. But the widest range of this politic complaisance is confined within the limits of justice. I would not only consult the interest of the people, but I would cheerfully gratify their humours. We are all a sort of children that must be soothed and managed. I think I am not austere or formal in my nature. I would bear, I would even myself play my part in, any innocent buffooneries, to divert them. But I never vill act the tyrant for their amusement. If they will mix malice in their sports, I shall never consent to throw them any living, sentient creature whatsoever, no not so much as a kitling, to torment.
> But if I profess all this impolitic stubbornness, I may chance never to be elected into Parliament. «
I deceive myself indeed most grossly, if I had not much rather pass the remainder of my life hidden in the recesses of the deepest obscurity, than to be placed on the most splendid throne of the universe, tantalized with a denial of the practice of all which can make the greatest situation any other than the greatest curse. Gentlemen, I have had my day. I can never sufficiently express my gratitude to you for having set me in a place, wherein I could lend the slightest help to great and laudable designs. If I have had my share in any measure giving quiet to private property, and private conscience; if by my vote I have aided in securing to families the best possession, peace; if I have joined in reconciling kings to their subjects, and subjects to their prince; if I have assisted to loosen the foreign holdings of the citizen, and taught him to look for his protection to the laws of his country, and for his comfort to the good-will of his countrymen;
if I have thus taken my part with the best of men in the best of their actions, I can shut the book; - I might wish to read a page or two more but this is enough for my
I have not lived in vain. And now, gentlemen, on this serious day, when I come, as it were, to make up my account with you, let me take to myself some degree of honest pride on the nature of the charges that are against me. I do not here stand before you accused of venality, or of neglect of duty. It is not said, that, in the long period of my service, I have in a single instance sacrificed the slightest of your interests to my ambition, or to my fortune. It is not alleged, that to gratify any anger or revenge of my own, or of my party, I have had a