To Thomas Walker, Esqr. February 26th, 1789
To Thomas Walker, Esqr. February 26th, 1789
Your favor of the 23d is just come to hand for which I thank you. I wrote to the President of the Board of Works last Monday, wishing him to begin making preparations for erecting the arch. I am so confident of his judgment that I can safely rely upon his going on as far as [he] pleases without me, and at any rate I shall not be long before I revisit Rotherham.
I had a letter yesterday from Mr. Foljambe, ’apologizing for his being obliged unexpectedly to leave town without calling on me, but that he should be in London again in a few days. He concludes his letter by saying:
“I saw the Pile of *your Bridge. In point of elegance and beauty it far exceeded my expectations, and is certainly beyond anything I ever saw.”
You will please inform the President what Mr. Foljambe says, as I think him entitled to participate in the applause. Mr. Fox of Derby called again on me last evening respecting the Bridge but I was not at home. There is a project of erecting a Bridge at Dublin which will be a large undertaking and as the Duke of Leicester and the other Deputies from Ireland are arrived, I intend making an opportunity of speaking to them on that business.
With respect to news and politics the King is certainly greatly amended but what is to follow from it is a matter of much uncertainty. How far the nation may be safe with a man of a deranged mind at the head of it and who, ever since he took up the notion of quitting England and going to live in Hanover, has been continually planning to entangle England with German connections, which if followed must end in a war, is a matter that will occasion various opinions. However unfortunate it’ may have been for the sufferer, the King’s malady has been no disservice to the Nation. He was burning his fingers very fast in the German war and whether he is enough in his senses to keep out of the fire is a matter of doubt.
You mention the Rotherham address as complimenting Mr. Pitt on the success of his administration and for asserting and supporting the Rights of the People. I differ exceedingly from you in this opinion, and I think the conduct of the opposition much nearer to the principles of the Constitution, than what the conduct of the Ministry was. So far from Mr. Pitt asserting and supporting the Rights of the people, it appears to me taking them away; but as a man ought not to make an assertion without giving his reasons I will give you mine.
The English Nation is composed of two orders of men-Peers and Commoners. By Commoners is properly meant every man in the Nation not having the title of Peer, and it is the existence of those two orders setting up distinct and opposite claims, the one hereditary and the other elective that makes it necessary to establish a third order or that known by the name of the Regal Power or the Power of the Crown. o
The Regal Power is the Majesty of the Nation collected to a center and residing in the Person exercising the Regal Power. The Right, therefore, of a Prince is a Right standing on the Right of the whole Nation. But Mr. Pitt says it stands on the Right of Parliament. Is not Parliament composed of two houses one of which is itself hereditary and over which the people have no control and in the establishment of which they have no election, and the other house the representatives of only a small part of the Nation ? How then can the Rights of the People be asserted and supported by absorbing them into an hereditary house of Peers? Is not one hereditary power or Right as dangerous as the other, and yet the addressers have all gone on the error of establishing power in the house of Peers over whom, as I have already said, they have no control for the inconsistent purpose of opposing it in the prince over whom they have some control.
It was one of those cases in which there ought to have been a National Convention elected for the express purpose, for if government be permitted to alter itself, or any of the parts permitted to alter the other there is no fixed Constitution in the country. And if the Regal Power, or the person exercising the Regal Power, either as King or Regent, instead of standing on the universal ground of the Nation be made the mere creature of Parliament, it is, in my humble opinion, equally inconsistent and unconstitutional as if Parliament was the mere creature of the Crown.
It is a common idea in all countries that to take Power from the Prince is to give liberty to the people, but Mr. Pitt’s conduct is almost the reverse of this. His is to take power from one part of the government to add it to another, for he has increased the power of the Peers, not the Rights of the People. I must give him credit for his ingenuity, if I do not for his principles, and the less so because the object of his conduct is now visible, which was to [keep] themselves in pay after they should be out of [favor] by retaining, through an act of Parliament of their own making, between four and five hundred thousand pounds of the Civil List in their own hands. This is the key of the whole business, and it was for this and not for the Rights of the people, that he set up the Right of Parliament, because it was only by that means that the spoil could be divided. If the restriction [on the Prince Regent] had been that he should not declare war or enter into foreign alliance without the consent of Parliament, the object would have been National and have had some sense in them, but it is, that he should not have all the money. If Swift was alive he would say-“Spit on such Patriotism.”
How they will manage with Ireland I have had no opportunity of learning as I have not been at the other end of the town since the commissioners arrived. Ireland will certainly judge for itself and not permit the English Parliament or Doctor’s to judge for her. Thus much for Politics.
I very sincerely congratulate you and the families on the probable recovery of Mr. Jonathan Walker and hope soon to have the pleasure that it may come to hand before you receive the final orders of your loom mending officer, and as I have written it all off at a dash, and have to go out to dinner to the other end of the town, I do not hold myself accountable for errors. With sincere respect to all the families, and in hopes of seeing you in London before I set off to Rotherham, I am Sir, your sincere friend and humble servant.