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“Possessed of extraordinary abilities, and utterly destitute of principle, he made no scruple of employing the money voted by parliament, in order to corrupt its members. He discovered that almost every man had his price. He bought many, and to gain more, he let loose the wealth of the treasury at elections.” And yet Mr. Russell says, that it was wisely done, to continue this man in power.
The high reputation Mr. Oglethorpe had acquired abroad, as a soldier, and the scarcely less high reputation he had acquired at Oxford, as a scholar, drew upon him the attention of that party, who had for years been resisting the violence and waste, which the faction in power, under the wild cry of Popery and the Pretender, had been indulging in — and in 1722, at the early age of twenty-four, he was brought into parliament, from Haslemere in Surrey.
Mr. Oglethorpe knew when he went into parliament, that the eyes of the public were upon him, and that his every step should be marked with caution and judgment; for his mother had been at one time the medium through which Oxford and Bolingbroke, and Queen Anne herself, communicated with the exiled family. And his sister was domesticated with them.
He soon became an active member, usefully directing his views to ameliorating the condition of the unhappy, in every form within his power.
In the session of 1728, says Smollet,* Mr. Oglethorpe, having been informed of shocking cruelty and oppression exercised by jailors upon their prisoners, moved for an examination into these practices, and was chosen chairman of a committee, appointed to inquire into the state of the jails of the kingdom.
They began with the Fleet Prison, which they visited in a body; there they found Sir William Rich, baronet, loaded with irons, by order of Bainbridge, the warden, to whom he had given some slight cause of offence. Bainbridge and others were punished by act of parliament, and disqualified from holding place, &c. and the law regulating jails amended.
It is known to reading men, that no short-hand writer was ever admitted to the gallery of the house of commons, before 1780. Before that time we have nothing but fragments of debates, such as the memory could carry away from a single hearing.
* Vol. ii. p. 440
When the mother of the first Pitt, in her maternal pride and fondness, desired to hear her son, she had to go into the gallery in male clothing. When the younger Pitt was asked, what of all lost works he most desired to draw from oblivion, he replied, “a single speech of Lord Bolingbroke.”
The writer of this notice has read many of the speeches of General Oglethorpe in this imperfect form, and will present three or four, to show his thoughts, if not his words.
In 1731, the opposition to the court measures appears to have been uncommonly spirited.. Says Smollet,* “ On a motion of thanks to the king, for a treaty with Spain, Mr. Pulteney resisted; Sir William Windham spoke to the same purpose as Mr. Pulteney.
“Mr. Oglethorpe, a gentleman of unblemished character, brave, generous, and humane, affirmed, that many other things related more nearly to the honor of the nation, than did the boasted guarantee of the pragmatic sanction. He said he wished to have heard that the new works of Dunkirk had been entirely razed and destroyed — that the nation had received full and complete satisfaction for the depredations committed by the natives of Spain upon British commerce. That more care was taken in disciplining the militia, on whose valor the nation must chiefly depend in case of an invasion; and that some regard had been shown to the oppressed Protestants in Germany. He expressed his satisfaction to find that the English were not so closely united to France as they had been for some years past, for he had observed that when two dogs were in a leash together, the stronger generally ran away with the weaker; and this he was afraid had been the case between France and Great Britain. He was replied to by Mr. Pelham and Mr. H. Walpole.”
Wishing to give the color of General Oglethorpe's opinion upon what should have been the policy of England in her foreign relations, I have extracted a speech from Smollet, (though there is a fuller report of the same in the Gentleman's Magazine, of London,) and to understand it, it is necessary to remember that from the time the Duke of Orleans became Regent of France, a very close connection had taken place between himself and his kinsmen, George I. and George II. of England, both of them having descended from Elizabeth, queen of Bohemia, the daughter of James I.
* Vol. ii. p. 141.
Again, to understand his opinions in relation to the colonial and domestic policy of England, two or three short speeches will be given from the Gentleman's Magazine.
In September 1732, upon a petition from the sugar colonies, praying for some exclusive benefits to themselves and restrictions upon their continental brethren, Mr. Oglethorpe spoke as follows:
“Mr. Speaker, in all cases, that come before this house, where there seems a clashing of interests, we ought to have no regard to the particular interests of any party, or set of people, but to the good of the whole. Our colonies are a part of our dominions - the people in them our own people; and we ought to shew all equal respect. I remember, there was once a petition presented to this house, by one county, complaining that they were injured in their trade, as to the sale of beans by another, modestly praying, that the other should be prohibited selling beans. If it should appear, that all our plantations upon the continent of America, are against that which is desired by the sugar colonies; we are to presume that the granting thereof, will be prejudicial to the trade, or particular interest of our continental settlements; and surely, the danger of hurting so considerable a part of our dominions, - a part which reaches from the 30th, to the 46th degree of north latitude, will at least, incline us to be extremely cautious in what we are about. If therefore, it shall appear that the relieving our sugar colonies, will do more harm to the other parts of our dominions, than it can do good to them, we must refuse it, and think of some other method of putting them upon an equal footing with their rivals, in any part of the trade. We may form some judgment, from the appearances, that were before us last session of parliament; but may judge more distinctly of things from what may be brought before us now. Some concerned for our settlements on the continent, seemed last year indifferent, and to give up the affair; I believe without any good authority from their constituents.
“But now, the colonies themselves have had an opportunity to consider the affair, and to transmit their opinions in a
proper and authentic manner; and until these opinions are laid before us, we cannot, or should not, make up our own. I must say, to the honor of the gentlemen concerned in the board of trade, that they are as diligent, and as exact in all matters which fall under their consideration, as any board in England. They have more business than most others, which will increase in proportion as our colonies increase in riches and power. It is already one of the most useful boards we have, and while the same good conduct is observed, it will be of great advantage to the trade of the British dominions."
After this debate, it was resolved to address his Majesty, to give directions to the commissioners for trade and plantations, to lay before the house, copies of all representations and papers which had been laid before them, since the last session of parliament, relating to the dispute between his Majesty's sugar colonies, and northern colonies in America.
In October following, in a debate upon the extending and continuing the patent of Mr. Delome, for the introduction of the silk manufacture into England, from Italy, Mr. Oglethorpe spoke as follows:
"The act for confining the king's patent, to the term of eleven years, was made in the reign of King James I. The bubbles and monopolies about that time erected, had become a public grievance. This law was to prevent setting up any such in future. The petitioner pretends to nothing, but the sole use of his own invention ; for so long, as may be a just recompense to him, for the hazard and expense he has been at in bringing it to perfection. If he can show he has not had a sufficient recompense, we are not confined by the former law, we ought to bring in a bill to prolong the term of his patent; or make him some other proper and rea
Raw silk may be bought in this country for sixteen shillings per pound,* but when manufac
Şilk, as will be observed by this speech of General Oglethorpe, was worth in England in its raw state, sixteen shillings per pound in 1732. In 1786, Arthur Young states raw French silk to be worth at Lyons twenty livres, or about sixteen shillings and sixpence per pound. The price in England of Italian silk is about sixteen shillings sterling.
As Georgia is now engaged in carrying out the original views of General Oglethorpe and his associates in the cultivation of silk, it is interesting to know, that while all things else have been changing their value, silk has for one hundred and seven years retained its original price. Destined perhaps to rise, for its parent coun. hun, China, embittered to madness by the cruel and horrible trade in opium, which British and American philanthropists force upon them, will soon, in all probability, like Japan, close their ports against all Christians, or perish in the attempt.
tured and made orgazine, sells for twenty-four shillings per pound, the eight shillings added to the price is clear gain to us, because added by the labor and industry of our own people; therefore we must grant, that this gentleman has brought to his own country, a very useful and profitable branch of trade; and if he can show he has not yet had a recompense by his patent, his petition ought to be referred to a committee.” Mr. Oglethorpe afterwards brought in a bill to extend the time of this patent, which was carried through parliament.
We will now give a speech of General Oglethorpe's at a later period, to close this subject, which is more in his manner, as I have understood from others. In reply to Henry Fox, afterwards Lord Holland, and then pay-master of the forces, upon a bill brought by the administration to punish the city of Edinburgh, in consequence of a riot, and the murder of a Captain Porteous, by a mob.
“Mr. Speaker, - I have never had the happiness of being married, but I have been told, and believe, that marriage is the happiest condition for man, — and I have often heard the union between ourselves and our neighboring state, compared to marriage, and I think not improperly; for the happiness of both parties must consist in mutual harmony and a good understanding, which can never be preserved, if the stronger shall proceed to oppress the weaker.
“The Scots, when they consented to this union with us, put so absolute a confidence in our honor, that it would be ungenerous and unjust to give them the least cause to complain, or repent of what they have done. I shall readily own, that a most horrid riot and murder happened in the city of Edinburgh; and that there were several obvious measures neglected, which might have prevented it, but I think the punishment intended by the present bill, is by far too serious, both with respect to the Lord Provost, and the city itself.
“As to the Lord Provost I am of opinion, that he did all that could be expected, from a man of his age or abilities; and cannot see any reason why he should be singled out for punishment. And, Mr. Speaker, as gentlemen have in this affair, been pleased to quote Puffendorf and Grotius, I shall beg leave to quote the words of an author, who I am sure, most gentlemen in this house, have read twice for once that they have read either of those two authorities. The words