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VOLUME THE SIXTH.
For JANUARY, 1770.
To the EDITOR of the POLITICAL REGISTER.
On the Tranfactions of Mr. Vaughan, and Mr. Hine, of Exeter, with his Grace the Duke of Grafton.
HE extraordinary attempt made by Mr. Vaughan to influence the Duke of Grafton, by the tender of a fum of money, under an oath of fecrefy, to difpofe of the reverfion of a place in favour of his fon; and the accufation brought by JUNIUS against the noble duke, of having fold an employment under the government to Mr. Hine, have lately been the general topics of conversation in all public places. Nor does it appear at prefent, that either of the parties ftand acquitted in the eyes of the public, of the crimes laid to their charge. It will not therefore be improper at this time, to give your readers the fentiments of the ableft political writers, on tranfactions of this nature. And it may have this good effect-if the noble Duke is innocent in the affair of Mr. Hine, and Mr. Vaughan guilty in his application to his grace: the character of an incorruptible minifter, which few statesmen have acquired, will be justly merited by the D- of Gbut if the tranfaction with Mr. Hine in favour of Col. B-fhall appear to be as heinous an offence against the ftate as Sam. Vaughan's attempt to corrupt his grace-he will appear to be a molt deteftable character, and wholly unfit to be intrufted with the adminiftration of public affairs. Those who have hitherto undertaken the defence of the noble duke, rely much upon this circumftance, that he did not receive any pecuniary benefit from this bargain with Mr. Vol. VI. C
Hine; but they have forgot that if Col. B had rendered any fervice to the minifter at the late general election, or at any other time had promoted the caufe of adminiftration, for which he was to receive his wages, the very firft opportunity-the paying him in this manner was exactly the fame thing, as if the Duke had received it from Hine and paid it to Col. B, as it was a debt owing by the Duke to the Colonel, which he discharged through the hands of Hine. So that in fact, this tranfaction was for the D of G- 's emolument. From which it likewife appears, that the detriment arifing to a free state from the fale of offices, does not confift in the minifter's receiving and pocketing the purchafe money; but in his making ufe of this fcandalous method to fecure to himself a number of creatures and dependents, who may be bribed to make his will the law of the land. On this fubject, we have fome jndicious remarks in a work, intitled, the Accomplished Senator, written originally in Latin, by Laurence Grimald Gorlifki, Senator and Chancellor of Poland, and tranflated into English by Mr. Oldifworth in the year 1733.
"There is nothing, fays this able politician, in which a government can better employ all its care and caution, than in preferving its employments from being protituted and expofed to fale; liable to be marketed and exchanged for money, inftead of being made the prizes and rewards of virtue. Nor is it eafy to be too ftrict and rigorous in punishing thofe, who are bribed and hired to make war against virtue. Avarice is a compendious way of ruining a flate. For when the rich and wealthy have plainly gotten the afcendant and advantage over the good and virtuous, every fubject and citizen will naturally make it his whole ftudy and endeavour, to improve his fortune rather than his character, and how foon then must a state be over-run with effeminacy, fraud, luxury, covetoufnefs, and all other vices whatever! Where this is the cafe, virtue will foon be trod under foot. The piety of the priest, the bravery of the foldier, the pru-, dence, fidelity, and diligence of the fenator, and the civil difcipline of the whole body of the people, will be all fet afide, to make room for avarice and felf-intereft, for fhameless and undaunted impudence, for violence, oppreffion, injustice, and the most unclean, favage, and barbarous vices.- -And when a ftate is unhappily placed under the direction of a fet of corrupt and wicked minifters who carry the leffer employments of that fate to market, its affairs can never be well and duly adminiftered, but it will become difficult to trace the footsteps of justice and equity, or to difcover fo much as the least remains, or perhaps even the form of religion in fuch a government."
If we review hiftory, fays another writer, we shall find that bribery and corruption on the part of bad minifters, have not fo often operated bad effects from their personal acceptance of fums of money; as in their difpofal of the public money and of places of emolument to extend their influence, and to fix themfelves fecurely in the feat of power. Thus it has frequently happened
that a prime minister has refused the moft magnificent prefents, the largeft venal offers on the one hand, while on the other, he has been abundantly profufe in tendering the fame temptations to corrupt others. And this reafon muft ever be affigned for the incompatibility of a minifter's conduct, who shall refufe the tender of a fum of money to corrupt him, and in the fame hour fhall be bribing twenty perfons by the dint of money to forfake the true interest of their country, for a blind attachment to him and his measures-that the object is fo very confiderable and ex tenfive when the minifter bribes, in comparison of his receiving a bribe; and that in the end, it amounts to the fame thing, and yet faves the reputation of the minifter with the unthinking part of mankind. For he who can fecure a majority in the House of Commons in his favour, by the proftitution or fale of public employments, or by the diftribution of money, annuities, or penfions, will be able to undermine the constitution fo far, that the commons in Parliament may vote away the people's money; and the minifter having poffeffion of the public treafure, and knowing in this fituation of things, that he is perfectly fafe from being called to any account for the difpofal of it, he may fecurely plunder the coffers of the nation; and yet to fhew that he is incorruptible, may boldly refufe a perfonal bribe, and profecute to ruin, the fool that tenders it.
Indeed it is idle to fuppofe, in a nation where minifterial influence is got to fuch a height as to bar all legal means of punishing courtiers, that a fum of money will be accepted from an individual by a premier who has the means in his hands of gratifying his avarice, if that be his vice, at the public expence, without putting his reputation in the hands of a private corruptor. This feems to have been the cafe in the tranfactions which have lately been laid before the public. And till Mr. Justice and the other vindicators will point out a real, public fervice performed by Col. Be, for the benefit of his country, meriting either a grofs fum, or an annual income, independent of his military appointment, the D— of Gwill appear to be a corruptor and a venal m- -r, who had actually received a minifterial benefit from Col. Be, which he repaid by giving him the fale of a place, that ought to have been the reward of the fidelity of fome inferior fervant in that department of the revenue in which the vacancy happened. Nor will a judicious people think otherwife of his refufal of Mr. Vaughan's offer, than as an artful attempt to cover a multitude of great cs by the external appearance of virtue and integrity, in a cafe, where the temptation was by no means adequate to the danger that was to be apprehended from yielding to it. In fine, Sir, the confequence to the nation is much more fatal, to have a minifter charged with dealing out bribes to all ranks and orders of men,' than if he could only be accu fed of having fecretly and privately" pocketed a pretty large fee from an individual, for a compliance with a private requeft.
Oxford, Dec. 22, 1769.