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Pitt), that the motion which, to his perfect friend had presented, and which, upon satisfaction, was reprobated and ridiculed, being read, the House had received ; and was no other than the very motion which the single question was, whether the petihe himself first formally introduced, and tion contained sufficient matter, if taken made the first characteristic of his public to be true, to render it their duty, either life to originate and support. He must also in justice or in wise policy, to endeavour bring it to the same right hon. gentleman's to remove what it complained of? He recollection, that the disturbances and re- said “ if taken to be true," because as volutions of the world, and the progress of the petitioners offered to verify it clause principles dangerous to monarchy which by clause, the House could not, without were now set up as reasons against all re- inquiry, or rather in the teeth of their formation, were by himself made the very own certain knowledge, vote it to be false basis of his own similar application to the -- What then did the petition assert? It House at the close of the American war. asserted that this House, which is invested At that time a mighty republic had just with the mighty authority of the repreformed itself on the other side of the At-sentatives of the whole people of Great lantic; but having been forced into that Britain, were chosen by a number smaller form by the corruptions which he sought than the subscribers to some of the petito destroy (a principle equally appli- tions, which that day had been treated cable at this moment as then), that with neglect : it stated that this gross inmighty revolution, and the agitations equality was rendered more unequal by which accompanied it, instead of forming the disproportion of the bodies who electan objection, was made the very argument ed: it asserted that elections were, and to support the necessity of regenerating must, in spite of all laws, continue to be our own constitution.

procured by notorious corruption; that · He said he should not attempt to imi- peers of parliament, sent up to the other tate the hon. gentleman who spoke last in House from their influence in this, sent the subtlety of logical argument, or in by their mandates others to represent the eloquence of declamation, but must them; and that small as the numbers remark, that it would have been more wor- were, compared with the whole people thy of his talents to have fairly stated his who elected the majority of the House of hon. friend's propositions and arguments, Commons, they themselves were but noand then to have refuted them, than to minal electors, the majority of those who assume those which never were main- sat there being elected by the patronage tained. Did his hon. friend, for instance, of the crown and a few great men of the insist upon universal representation as an realm, by means of which the people had original and indispensable principle of this lost all share in our balanced constitution. or any other government? or did the peti. Those were the facts they stated, and the tion which he presented assert that prin- simple question was, whether the House ciple, or pray for its adoption ? His hon. was prepared to say, in the face of the friend put the rights of mankind in gene- public, and to the people they represented, ral, and of the people of England in parti- What of all this? Be it so ; let these cular upon truer and higher grounds: he things continue: for that would be their maintained that libertý, property, and language if they negatived the motion. security from all oppression, were the To that it had been answered, that those unalienable rights of mankind; that all theoretical defects, which the language of government existed for their benefit; and discontent had worked up into a libel that whatever representation, general or upon the present government, belonged particular, conduced the most to secure to its original constitution ; that under it them, they had a right to institute for the country had improved from age to their protection. But as they were not age, and arrived at its present prosperity assembled to form a government, but to and glory. He denied it. He said that support one already established, he dis- there was not in practice, which both sides claimed all resort to theory, and main- had agreed to resort to, the smallest anatained his proposition as justified by prac-logy between the ancient and modern tical necessity.

He would, therefore, House of Commons. He said that before recall the attention of the House to the the revolution, when the executive power motion before it. What was it? It was of the country was in all its ancient vigour, simply that they should take into their ruling by terror and the instruments of consideration the petition which his hon. authority, and whilst by the free spirit of the English people the Commons were absolute property of some individual, freonly growing up in strength, and, by ad- quently of the Crown, who sold it for them, vancing upon the other branches of the and the persons elected devoted themgovernment, were gradually bringing the selves implicitly to the Crown for the constitution to what it now was, the de- emoluments which were carved out of the fective representation of the people was people's substance to feed them, by a mere defect in theory, but of small which that House had become a counsel account in practice: it was then of such of the Crown, and not an active balance immense importance to the people to against its power. He said those were no struggle against the prerogative, that it imaginations of his; they stood not only was of little consequence who were the upon all history, but upon a modern auelectors, if the people were but possessed thority which would be respected by the of an organ where their authority could be House, and, he knew, would be particudeposited and act with force; the crown larly bowed to by the hon. gentleman had not then the means of influence and who had spoke last. corruption either amongst the electors or A modern author of great eloquence, the elected, and particular districts of the said Mr. Erskine, speaking of those nation were not then bought, in order to changes in the English government, truly sell again at discretion, not merely those said, “ The virtue, spirit, and essence of who had been bought, but the rest of the a House of Commons consists in its being nation, whose interests were left in the the express image of the feelings of the ? hands of the small number which consti-nation. It was not instituted to be a tuted the elective body. Whoever looked control upon the people, as of late it has at the English history would perceive, that been taught by a doctrine of the most in the infancy of that House, and before pernicious tendency, but as a control for the confirmation of its high privileges the people.” And he therefore thus inthe Commons were uniformly bent on dignantly deplored its lapse from that maintaining popular privileges, and form-character: “ The distempers of monarchy ed a real and practical balance against the were the great subjects of apprehension crown. There was no danger in those and redress in the last century; in this, days that the representatives of the few the distempers of parliament. The power would betray the interests of the many of the Crown, almost dead and rotten as The Crown and the Commons were sepa- prerogative, has grown up anew, with rated by fear and jealousy, and when the much more strength, and far less odium, Commons got together, no matter how under the name of influence-an influence elected, they acted on that principle. which operated without noise and violence; This was so true, that even Charles and which converted the very antagonist into James, when the Commons were risen, the instrument of power: which contained were driven to the garbling of corpora- in itself a perpetual principle of growth tions : but since the revolution, and par. and renovation; and which the distresses ticularly since the creation of the immense and the prosperity of the country equally revenues which had grown up since that tended to augment, was an admirable subtime, a new order of things had arisen, stitute for a prerogative that, being only and, as all governments stood in practice the offspring of antiquated prejudices, had and not in theory, the English govern- moulded in its original stamina irresistible ment might be said to be completely principles of decay and dissolution. The changed, corruption had taken the place ignorance of the people is a bottom but of power, and therefore, although a House for a temporary system; but the interest of Commons, elected in any way, having of active men in the state is a foundation the people's authority, was sufficiently perpetual and infallible. “When the constituted to struggle against power, House of Commons was thus made to and although the defective state of the consider itself as the master of its conrepresentation had, in that case, no ope- stituents, there wanted but one thing to ration, yet, when influence and corruption secure it against all possible future deviasuperseded authority, the popular branch tion towards popularity-an unlimited of the constitution might be strictly said fund of money to be laid out according to be dissolved.--A small part of the na- to the pleasure of the Court.*" That tion was now in the habitual course of either selling the interests of the whole, * Burke's Thoughts on the Cause of the or else their elective franchise was the present Discontents.

fund they all knew existed, augmenting He said, therefore, that if this House had itself alike by the distresses as by the then in substance represented the people, prosperity of the country. But it might America at this moment would still have be said, had not the nation been equally been an affectionate colony, or, if emanprosperous under this new system of cipated by the natural progressions of the practice?' He answered no. He main world, she would now be spreading the tained the the mighty agitations which roots of monarchy round and round the now convulsed and desolated Europe, that globe. They planted her in their better the disastrous events of the moment which days, and gave her the image of their own were opposed to the motion before the constitution--her governors were kings, House, owed their very existence to the her councils the aristocracy, and her ascorruptions of the English government, semblies the commons; and she felt both which they sought to do away.-[Here pride and prosperity in the reflected greata laugh from the other side of the House.] ness of this country. But all that mighty Mr. Erskine said, there was nothing so easy fabric our corruptions undermined and as that sort of answer. It would-be, however, destroyed, and the reign of republicanism more decent and parliamentary to expose began from the abuse of monarchical estabhis mistakes by reasonings. He should lishment. This was the first stage of the listen to them with candour, and follow proof, and the rest too palpably followed them if he was convinced; but till then it. he would continue to assert, that all the The effects of so distant a revolution, calamities which they deplored at that brought on by the corruption of our Eumoment had no other origin than the cor- ropean government, could not have comruption of the House of Commons: and municated itself so suddenly to Europe, if for the first part of the historical deduction other governments had not been equally he had authorities, some of which the corrupt.- It certainly was not affection for right hon.gentleman would not be disposed freedom, but to distress England, that to dispute. His illustrious father the embarked France in the American cause; earl of Chatham, maintained that a taxa- but as that detestable principle could not tion for revenue in America, the fatal be openly avowed, her press became free cause of the American quarrel and separ- in arguing the justice of the quarrel, and ation, was devised to supply the fountain she sent the prime of her army to support of corruption in that House; sir George it in the field. The consequences every Savile insisted upon it with indignation in body had seen. Her armies, after shedding his celebrated letter to his constituents; their blood in the resistance of monarchical and the celebrated author whose work he despotism and corruption, and enjoying had already cited, detailed all the melan- the triumph of republican resistance, recholy history in that too-prophetic speech turned home to France to see monarchy which he delivered in the beginning of in a still more odious and disgraceful form: that war. He knew the war was for a they soon applied the principles their golong time popular in the country, because vernment had taught them to the governit was their war, and the people unfortu- ment itself, and monarchy in France nately connected that House with them- passed away like an enchantment. Such selves, though there was no substantial was the power of opinion. He maintained, connexion. Had that House been in therefore, that no fact in history or potheory what it was in practice, the execu- litics, from the beginning of the world, was tive government merely, without an ima- more firmly supported, than that the proginary connexion with the people, how position (which some had affected to different would have been the event- laugh at) was strictly true; and that the jealousy would have prevented what con- corruptions of the Eriglish House of Comfidence produced. It must be remembered, mons, by resorting to taxation in America too, that since revenue was to be raised, for the means of corruption, and carrying which either England or America was by on the war to the final separation, had their authority to provide, they artfully wholly and certainly produced all the created a powerful interest in the quarrel changes which agitated the world at that by American taxation : but, with all those moment. advantages, the people saw the approach- Mr. Erskine said, if the separation of ing calamity, and petitioned to avert it America, and the consequent revolutions long, long before it was too late to have of Europe, might thus be traced to the saved America to this country.

causes lie had assigned and that they

atose from no other, every man's con- obvious. It obtruded itself upon the view science told him to be true), how could from the bare consideration of the comit possibly be denied that the present sys- plaint. The complaint was, that the peotem of English government had been ple had no control in the choice of their practically mischievous, when but for representatives ; that they were either those bitter fruits of their corruption they chosen amidst riot and confusion, and would have been free at this moment from amidst bribery and corruption in the larger a debt of one hundred and twenty millions, districts, or by the absolute authority of a which erippled all their exertions, and few individuals in the smaller; that no have seen the nations around them, as well private fortune, even if election were free, as the inhabitants of England, bowing to could bring up the electors to the poll at their constitution as the great type and a county contest, or the absent freemen example of happiness, instead of seeing in those numerous cities where the election (he was now speaking their own language) is in the

corporation, or stand

the expense the first principles of government broken of the final issue in that House. The up, and the country involved in a war to principle of the remedy, therefore, must prevent even the internal dissolution of present itself to every mind alike, though her own constitution. There were some different persons might differ in the details. who, forced by their former opinions and It could be no other than to simplify and practice to admit the existence of those equalize the franchise of election, to make evils and the advantage of some refor each body of electors too large for indi. mation, yet objected to the generality of vidual corruption, and the period of choice the motion, and the want of a specific ob- too short for temptation, and, by the subject. He, on the contrary, thought that division of the places of election, to bring the generality of the application consti- the electors together without confusion tuted at once its practicability and its and within every man's reach. Surely safety. The petitioners recollected, as this was practicable. they ought to do, that they were not With regard to the time, against which without a government which, with all its so much had been objected, it appeared to defects, was still worthy of their confidence him, that ifever there was one season more and affection : they did not, therefore, critically favourable than another for the step into their place to legislate for them- object, it was at thatvery moment. When, selves, but looked up to their wisdom and indeed, the arbitrary moparchy of France authority to provide, as in other cases, for was falling down by the exertions of a the common good. And it was truly said great people, and nothing was seen but by an hon. gentleman, whose works he had virtuous exertion and exultation, it might already cited, that nothing would be more be admitted that in such a conjuncture dangerous than for parliament to take ad- men might run before the mark, and convantage of the inartificial mode in which found principles together which had no the people express their wishes, or to take connexion. Such was the alleged, but pust upon their silence." If we should be not the proved, state of England when his

able, by dexterity, power, or intrigue, hon. friend gave notice last year of his * to disappoint the expectations of our motion-the objection then had, therefore, constituents, what will it avail us? We at least, aplausible, though not a just, foun. shall never be strong or artful enough to dation. But, goodGod! said Mr. Erskine, parry or to put by the irresistible de- how different, on the admission of the obmands of our situation, which calls upon jectors to the times, was the state of the • us with a voice which will be heard. If country at the present moment-starting

all the nation are not equally forward to back with horror at the crimes and calami'press this duty upon us, yet be assured ties of France, and seemingly forgetting • that they all equally expect we should all distresses in an enthusiasm for their

perform it. The respectful silence of own government! Surely common sense those who wait upon your pleasure ought proclaimed that to be the hour of reforma' to be as powerful with you as the call of tion, more especially when it was left to · those who require your service as their themselves to originate and to fashion it. right. It is not wise to force the people So far from being urged on by the people

to speak out more plainly what they to go too far, they trod like men who plainly mean.'

feared that the ground would break under But though no specific remedy was them, and could hardly be brought up to called for, the general nature of it was the point which their understandings dic[VOL. XXX.)

[ 3 H]

in a

tated. Let them seize, therefore, that turally guard his own prerogatives, the happy and providential crisis to do, with peers would watch over their privileges, popularity and safety, what to save their and it was to be hoped that the House of country must be done at last: let them Commons would devote itself in an espeexhibit to the world the vessel of the En- cial manner, to secure the well-being of glish state riding amidst the storms of the the people. The Commons should not world, held by her three equal anchors, wait, to be instructed and excited by which keep her motionless and in safety their constituents to promote their interby drawing her equally in their different ests, but they should fore-run them in directions This was the way to perpetuate every thing. If there was danger, it ought the love of monarchy. If they really to be discovered, and guarded against in thought that a spirit of discontent walked the first instance, by the representative abroad, and menaced the safety of govern- body. If disorders prevailed in the con-, ment, let them make haste to lay it, by stitution, it belonged to them to apply the rendering government respectable. If remedy; or if palliatives were necessary, they wished to expose and to discounte- they were the most proper to apply them. nance the visions and theories of the day, The reform of parliament should proceed and to prevent their practical effects, let from the parliament itself, if a reform was them exhibit to the people of England, in necessary. He declined entering into practice, the real genuine constitution of the question, whether that House requirtheir fathers, and give them the happiness ed any amendment in the state of its rewhich flows from its administration. This presentation : if he were called upon to was the cure for sedition, and the road to speak his sentiments, he should not hesicontent. He should not farther detain the tate to say that it did require it, but it House at that late hour.

was of the utmost moment to consider Several gentlemen rose to speak, and whether this was the fit time for it. Many several called out adjourn. Upon which things might be proper under particular Mr. Stanley moved, That the debate be circumstances which would be highly imadjourned till to-morrow.


different situation. This was Mr. Pitt said, he wished the question a season of war, alarm, and internal disto be as speedily decided as possible; but quietude ; men's passions were inflamed, as from unavoidable circumstances the and the best disposed were not in a temdebate had begun at a very late hour, and per to agitate great changes. He did not many gentlemen were desirous of deliver- allude to the affairs of France; whatever ing their sentiments upon it, he should their principles were, he knew that Eng. have no objection to adjourn the debate. lishmen loved their liberty, and adored

The question of adjournment being the constitution. But heats and animosiput, the House divided : Ayes, 181; ties had lately unfortunately prevailed in Noes, 109.

this country, to such a degree, that he . Tellers.

feared this was not the time to agitate the

He admitted that the execu

question. S

181 tive power must have a control somewhere,

and that House was certainly the place for Noes, Sir William Young


it; but sooner than risk the dangers of Mr. Pybus

innovation at improper seasons, he would So it was resolved in the affirmative. consent for a time, especially under a

mild government, to have his liberties May 7. The House having resumed the suspended. Under an Aurelius, or an adjourned debate,

Henry the 4th, he would prefer the Mr. Stanley, who yesterday moved the abridgment of his freedom to those vioadjournment, rose to state, that he con- lences that were ever attendant upon received the subject to be of the greatest volutions. Although he was a steady consequence, and made his motion in or- friend to a reform of parliament, he deder to afford an opportunity to every mem- sired it to be understood that he was so ber of delivering his sentiments. The under some modifications. He entirely constitution, consisting of three branches, differed from those gentlemen who wished was, he said, admirably adapted to pro- to extend the elective franchise to all. mote the liberty and happiness of the na- Amendments were necessary, and when tion, but they had each their distinct pro- the time should come best adapted for vinces. The chief magistrate would na- the purpose, hewould heartily concur with

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