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that it is impossible to enslave this nation, while it is perpetually upon its guard. Let country gentlemen then, by having frequent opportunities of exerting themselves, be kept warm and active in their contention for the pub. lic good : this will raise that zeal and spirit, which will at last get the better of those undue influences, by which the officers of the crown, though unknown to the several boroughs, have been able to supplant country gentlemen of great characters and fortune, who live in their neighbourhood. I do not say this upon idle speculation only. I live in a country where it is too well known, and I appeal to many gentlemen in the house, to more out of it (and who are so for this very reason,) for the truth of my assertion. Sir, it is a sore which has been long eating into the most vital part of our constitution, and I hope the time will come when you will probe it to the bottom. For if a minister should ever gain a corrupt familiarity with our boroughs, if he should keep a register of them in his closet, and by sending down his treasury mandates, should procure a spurious representative of the people, the offspring of his corruption, who will be at all times ready to reconeile and justify the most contradictory measures of his administration, and even to vote every crude indigested dream of their patron into a law ; if the maintenance of his power should become the sole object of their attention, and they should be guilty of the most violent breach of Parliamentary trust, by giving the King a discretionary liberty of taxing the people without limitation or controul ; the last fatal compliment they can pay to the crown ;-If this should ever be the unhappy condition of this nation, the people indeed may complain ; but the doors of that place where their complaints should be heard, will for ever be shut against them.
Our disease, I fear is of a complicated nature, and I think that this motion is wisely intended to remove the first and principal disorder. Give the people their ancient
right of frequent new elections; that will restore the de: cayed authority of Parliainents, and will put our constifution into a natural condition of working out her own cure.
Sir, upon the whole, I am of opinion that I cannot express a greater zeal for his majesty, for the liberties of the people, or the honour and dignity of this house, than by seconding the motion which the honourable gentleman bas made you.
SIR ROBERT WALPOLE'S REPLY.
Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer,
THO' the question has been already so fully opposed, that there is no great occasion to say any thing farther against it, yet, I hope, the house will indulge me the lib. erty of giving some of those reasons, which induce me to be against the motion. In general I must take notice that the nature of our constinution seems to be very much mistaken by the gentlemen who have spoken in favour of this motion. It is certain, that ours is a mixed government, and the perfection of our constitution consists in this, that the monarchical, aristocratical and dem ocratical forms of government are mixt and interwoven in ours, so as to give us all the advantages of each, without subjecting us to the dangers and inconveniences of either. The democratical form of government, which is the only one I have now occasion to take notice of, is liable to these inconveniences : that they are generally too tedious in their coming to any resolution, and seldom brisk and expeditious enough in carrying their resolutions inte
execation : that they are always wavering in their resolutions, and never steady in any of the measures they resolve to pursue ; and that they are often involved in factions, seditions and insurrections, which exposes them to be made the tools, if not the prey of their neighbours : therefore in all the regulations we make, with respect to our constitution, we are' to guard against running too much into that form of government which is properly called democratical ; this was, in my opinion, the effect of the triennial law, and will again be the effect, if ever it should be restored.
That triennial elections would make our government too tedious in all their resolves, is evident; because, in such case, no prudent administration would ever resolve upon any meaşnre of consequence, till they had felt not only the pulse of the Parliament, but the pulse of the people : and the ministers of state would always labour under this disadvantage, that as secrets of state must not be immediately divulged, their enemies and enemies they will always have) would have a handle for exposing their measures, and rendering them disagreeable to the people, and thereby carrying perhaps a new election against them, before they could have an opportunity of justifying their measures, by divulging those facts and circumstances, from whence the justice and the wisdom of their measures would clearly appear.
Then, sir, it is by expericnce well known, that what is called the populace of every country, are apt to be too much elated with success, and too much dejected with every misfortune ; this makes them wavering in their opinions about affairs of state, and never long of the same mind; and as this house is chosen by the free and unbiased voice of the people, in general, if this choice were so often renewed, we might expect, that this house would be as wavering and as unsteady as the people usually are ; and it being impossible to carry on the public affairs of the nation, without the concurrence of this
house, the ministers would always be obliged to comply, and consequently, would be obliged to change their measures, as often as the people changed their minds.
With septennial Parliaments, Sir, we are not exposed to either of these misfortunes, because, if the ministers, after having felt the pulse of the Parliament, which they can always soon do, resolve upon any measures, they have generally time enough before the new elections come on, to give the people proper information, in order to shew them the justice and the wisdom of the measures they have pursued; and if the people should at any time be too much elated, or too much dejected, or should without a cause change their minds, those at the helm of affairs have time to set them right before a new election comes on.
As to faction and sedition, sir, I will grant, that in monarchical and aristocratical governments, it generaliy arises from violence and oppression ; but in democratical governments, it always arises from the people's hav. ing too great a share in the government; for in all countries, and in all governments, there always will be many factions and unquiet spirits, who can never be at rest either in power or out of power; when in power, they are never easy, unless every man submits, intirely to their direction; and when out of power, they are always working and intriguing against those that are in, without any regard to justice, or to the interest of their country : in popular governments such men hare too much game, they have too many opportunities for working upon and corrupting the minds of the people, in order to give them a bad impression of, and to raise discontents against those that have the management of the public affairs for the time; and these discontents often reak out into seditions and insurrections. This, sir, vould in my opinion be our misfortune, if our Par. aments
either annual or triennial : by such requent elections, there would be so much power throwi
into the hands of the people, as would destroy that conn' mixture, which is the beauty of our constitution : in short, our government would really become a democratical government, and might from thence very probably diverge into a tyrannical. Therefore, in order to preserve our constitution, in order to prevent our falling under tyranny, and arbitrary power, we ought to preserve that law, which I really think has brought our constitution to a more equal mixture, and consequently to greater pefection than it was ever in,before that law took place.
As to bribery and corruption, Sir, if it were possible to influence, by such base means, the majority of the electors of Great-Britain, to chuse such men as would probably give up their liberties ; if it were possible to influence, by such means, a majority of the Members of this house, to consent to the establishment of arbitrary power,
1 would readily allow, that the calculations made by the gentlemen of the other side were just, and their inference true ; but I am persuaded that neither of these is possible. As the members of this house generally are, and must always be gentlemen of fortune and figure in their country; is it possible to suppose, that any of them could, by a pension or a post, be influenced to consent to the overthrow of our constitution ; by which the enjoyment, not only of what he got, but of what he before had, would be rendered altogether precarious ? I will allow, Sir, that with respect to bribery, the price must be higher or lower, generally in proportion to the virtue of the man who is to be bribed ; but it must likewise be granted, that the humour he happens to be in at the time, the spirit he happens to be endowed with, adds a great deal to his virtue.
encroachments are made upon the rights of the people, when the people do not think themselves in any danger, there may he many of the electors, who by a bribe of ten guineas, might be induced to vote for one candidate rather than another ; but if the court were making any encroachments upon