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inons. It is for their own sakes that I would | Parliament. We have a ode in which every hon. prevent their assuming a power which the Con- est man may find it. We have Magna Charta. stitution has denied them, lest, by grasping at We have the Statute Book, and the Bill of Rights. an authority they have no right to, they should If a case should arise unknown to these great forfeit that which they legally possess. My authorities, we have still that plain English reaLords, I affirm that they have betrayed their son left, which is the foundation of all our Enconstituents, and violated the Constitution. Un- glish jurisprudence. That reason tells us, that der pretense of declaring the law, they have every judicial court, and every political society, made a law, and united in the same persons the must be vested with those powers and privileges office of legislator and of judge !
which are necessary for performing the office to I shall endeavor to adhere strictly to the no- which they are appointed. It tells us, also, that ble Lord's doctrine, which is, indeed, impossible no court of justice can have a power inconsistent to mistake, so far as my memory will permit me with, or paramount to the known laws of the to preserve his expressions. He seems fond of land ; that the people, when they choose their the word jurisdiction; and I confess, with the representatives, never mean to convey to them force and effect which he has given it, it is a a power of invading the rights, or trampling on word of copious meaning and wonderful extent. the liberties of those whom they represent. If his Lordship's doctrine be well founded, we What security would they have for their rights, must renounce all those political maxims by if once they admitted that a court of judicature which our understandings have hitherto been might determine every question that came bedirected, and even the first elements of learning fore it, not by any known positive law, but by taught in our schools when we were schoolboys. the vague, indeterminate, arbitrary rule of what My Lords, we knew that jurisdiction was noth- the noble Lord is pleased to call the wisdom of ing more than "jus dicere.' We knew that “le- the court ? With respect to the decision of the gem facere" and "legem dicere” (to make law courts of justice, I am far from denying them and to declare it) were powers clearly distin- their due weight and authority; yet, placing them guished from each other in the nature of things, in the most respectable view, I still consider and wisely separated by the wisdom of the En- them, not as law, but as an evidence of the law. glish Constitution. But now, it seems, we must And before they can arrive even at that degree adopt a new system of thinking! The House of authority, it must appear that they are foundof Commons, we are told, have a supreme juris- ed in and confirmed by reason; that they are diction, and there is no appeal from their sen- supported by precedents taken from good and tence; and that wherever they are competent moderate times; that they do not contradict any judges, their decision must be received and sub-positive law; that they are submitted to withmitted to, as ipso facto, the law of the land. My out reluctance by the people; that they are unLords, I am a plain man, and have been brought questioned by the Legislature (which is equivaup in a religious reverence for the original sim- lent to a tacit confirmation); and whal, in my plicity of the laws of England. By what soph- judgment, is by far the most important, that they istry they have been perverted, by what artifices do not violate the spirit of the Constitution. My they have been involved in obscurity, is not for Lords, this is not a vague or loose expression. me to explain. The principles, however, of the We all know what the Constitution is. We all English laws are still sufficiently clear; they know that the first principle of it is, that the are founded in reason, and are the masterpiece subject shall not be governed by the arbitrium of the human understanding; but it is in the text of any one man or body of men (less than the that I would look for a direction to my judgment, whole Legislature), but by certain laws, to which not in the commentaries of modern professors. he has virtually given his consent, which are The noble Lord assures us that he knows not in open to him to examine, and not beyond his abil. what code the law of Parliament is to be found; ity to understand. Now, my Lords, I affirm, and that the House of Commons, when they act as am ready to maintain, that the late decision of judges, have no law to direct them but their own the House of Commons upon the Middlesex elecwisdom; that their decision is law; and if they tion is destitute of every one of those properties determine wrong, the subject has no appeal but and conditions which I hold to be essential to to Heaven. What then, my Lords ? Are all the legality of such a decision. (1.) It is not the generous efforts of our ancestors, are all founded in reason; for it carries with it a conthose glorious contentions, by which they meant tradiction, that the representative should perto secure to themselves, and to transmit to their form the office of the constituent body. (2.) It posterity, a known law, a certain rule of living, is not supported by a single precedent; for the reduced to this conclusion, that instead of the case of Sir Robert Walpole is but a half precearbitrary power of a King, we must submit to dent, and even that half is imperfect. Incapac the arbitrary power of a House of Commons ? ity was indeed declared, but his crimes are stated If this be true, what benefit do we derive from as the ground of the resolution, and his opponent the exchange ? Tyranny, my Lords, is detest was declared to be not duly elected, even after able in every shape, but in none so formidable as his incapacity was established. (3.) It contrawhen it is assumed and exercised by a number dicts Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights, of tyrants. But, my Lords, this is not the fact; which it is provided, that no subject shall be de this is not the Constitution. We have a law of prived of his freehold, unless by the judgment of
his peers, or tha law of the land; and that elec- give us for attempting to save the state. My tions of members to serve in Parliament shall be Lords, I am sensible of the importance and diif. free. (4.) So far is this decision from being culty of this great crisis : at a moment such as submitted to by the people, that they have taken this, we are called upon to do our duty, without the strongest measures, and adopted the most dreading the resentment of any man.
But if appositive language, to express their discontent. prehensions of this kind are to affect us, let us Whether it will be questioned by the Legisla- consider which we ought to respect most, the ture, will depend upon your Lordships' resolu- representative or the collective body of the peotion, but that it violates the spirit of the Con- ple. My Lords, five hundred gentlemen are not stitution, will, I think, be disputed by no man ten millions; and if we must have a contention, who has heard this day's debate, and who wishes let us take care to have the English nation on we!l to the freedom of his country. Yet, if we our side. If this question be given up, the freeare to believe the noble Lord, this great griev- holders of England are reduced to a condition ance, this manifest violation of the first princi- baser than the peasantry of Poland. If they deples of the Constitution, will not admit of a rem- sert their own cause, they deserve to be slaves ! edy. It is not even capable of redress, unless My Lords, this is not merely the cold opinion of we appeal at once to Heaven! My Lords, I my understanding, but the glowing expression have better hopes of the Constitution, and a of what I feel. It is my heart that speaks. I firmer confidence in the wisdom and constitu- know I speak warmly, my Lords ; but this tional authority of this House. It is to your an- warmth shall neither betray my argument nor cestors, my Lords, it is to the English barons, my temper. The kingdom is in a fame. As that we are indebted for the laws and Constitu- mediators between the King and people, it is our tion we possess. Their virtues were rude and duty to represent to him the true condition and uncultivated, but they were great and sincere. temper of his subjects. It is a duty which no Their understandings were as little polished as particular respects should hinder us from pertheir manners, but they had hearts to distinguish forming; and whenever his Majesty shall deright from wrong; they had heads to distinguish mand our advice, it will then be our duty to intruth from falsehood ; they understood the rights quire more minutely into the causes of the pres. of humanity, and they had spirit to maintain them. ent discontents. Whenever that inquiry shall
My Lords, I think that history has not done come on, I pledge myself to the House to prove justice to their conduct, when they obtained from that, since the årst institution of the House of their sovereign that great acknowledgment of na- Commons, not a single precedent can be protional rights contained in Magna Charta : they duced to justify their late proceedings. My nodid not confine it to themselves alone, but deliv- ble and learned friend (the Lord Chancellor ered it as a common blessing to the whole people. Camden) has pledged himself to the House that They did not say, these are the rights of the he will support that assertion. great barons, or these are the rights of the great My Lords, the character and circumstances prelates. No, my Lords, they said, in the simple of Mr. Wilkes have been very improperly intro. Latin of the times, “nullus liber homo” (no free duced into this question, not only here, but in man), and provided as carefully for the meanest that court of judicature where his cause was subject as for the greatest. These are uncouth tried—I mean the House of Commons. With words, and sound but poorly in the ears of schol- one party he was a patriot of the first magni. ars; neither are they addressed to the criticism tude; with the other, the vilest incendiary. For of scholars, but to the hearts of free men. These my own part, I consider him merely and indifthree words, “nullus liber homo," have a mean- ferently as an English subject, possessed of cer. ing which interests us all. They deserve to be tain rights which the laws have given him, and remembered—they deserve to be inculcated in which the laws alone can take from him. I am our minds—they are worth all the classics. Let neither moved by his private vices nor by his us not, then, degenerate from the glorious exam- public merits. In his person, though he were ple of our ancestors. Those iron barons (for so the worst of men, I contend for the safety and seI may call them when compared with the silken curity of the best. God forbid, my Lords, that barons of modern days) were the guardians of there should be a power in this country of meas. the people ; yet their virtues, my Lords, were uring the civil rights of the subject by his moral never engaged in a question of such importance character, or by any other rule but the fixed as the present. A breach has been made in the laws of the land! I believe, my Lords, I shall Constitution—the battlements are dismantled — not be suspected of any personal partiality to the citadel is open to the first invader—the walls this unhappy man. I am not very conversant totter—the Constitution is not tenable. What in pamphlets or newspapers; but, from what I remains, then, but for us to stand foremost in the have heard, and from the little I have read, I breath, and repair it, or perish in it?
may venture to affirm, that I have had my share Great pains have been taken to alarm us with in the compliments which have come from that the consequences of a difference between the quarter. As for motives of ambition (for I must two houses of Parliament; that the House of Commons will resent our presuming to take no- 9 Lord Chatham here refers, among others, to Jutice of their proceedings; that they will resent nius, who had attacked him about a year before in our daring to advise the Crown, and never for his first letter. At a later period Junius changed
take to myself a part of the noble Duke's insin-beg pardon, by his ministers—but I have sufuation), I believe, my Lords, there have been fered myself to be so too long. For some timo times in which I have had the honor of standing I have beheld with silent indignation the arbiin such favor in the closet, that there must have trary measures of the minister. I have often been something extravagantly unreasonable in drooped and hung down my head in council, and my wishes if they might not all have been grat- disapproved by my looks those steps which I ified. After neglecting those opportunities, I am knew my avowed opposition could not prevent. now suspected of coming forward, in the decline I will do so no longer, but openly and boldly of life, in the anxious pursuit of wealth and pow. speak my sentiments. I now proclaim to the er which it is impossible for me to enjoy. Be it world that I entirely coincide in the opinion exso! There is one ambition, at least, which I ever pressed by my noble friend—whose presence will acknowledge, which I will not renounce but again reanimates us—respecting this unconstiwith my life. It is the ambition of delivering to tutional vote of the House of Commons. If, in my posterity those rights of freedom which I giving my opinion as a judge, I were to pay any have received from my ancestors. I am not now respect to that vote, I should look upon myself pleading the cause of an individual, but of every as a traitor to my trust, and an enemy to my freeholder in England. In what manner this country. By their violent and tyrannical conHouse may constitutionally interpose in their de- duct, ministers have alienated the minds of the sense, and what kind of redress this case will re- people from his Majesty's government-I had quire and admit of, is not at present the subject almost said from his Majesty's person — insoof our consideration. The amendment, if agreed much, that if some measures are not devised to to, will naturally lead us to such an inquiry. appease the clamors so universally prevalent, I That inquiry may, perhaps, point out the neces- know not, my Lords, whether the people, in desity of an act of the Legislature, or it may lead spair, may not become their own avengers, and us, perhaps, to desire a conference with the other take the redress of grievances into their own House; which one noble Lord affirms is the only hands." After such a speech, Lord Camden parliamentary way of proceeding, and which an- could not, of course, expect to hold office. He other noble Lord assures us the House of Com- was instantly dismissed. It was a moment of mons would either not come to, or would break extreme excitement. Lord Shelburne went so off with indignation. Leaving their Lordships far as to say in the House, “ After the dismisto reconcile that matter between themselves, Ision of the present worthy Lord Chancellor, the shall only say, that before we have inquired, we seals will go begging; but I hope there will not can not be provided with materials ; consequent- be found in this kingdom a wretch so base and ly, we are not at present prepared for a confer-mean-spirited as to accept them on the condience.
tions on which they must be offered." This It is not impossible, my Lords, that the in- speech of Lord Chatham decided the fate of tho quiry I speak of may lead us to advise his Maj. Duke of Graston. The moment a leader was fsty to dissolve the present Parliament; nor have found to unite the different sections of the OppoI any doubt of our right to give that advice, il sition, the attack was too severe for him to rewe should think it necessary. His Majesty will sist. The next speech will show the manner in then determine whether he will yield to the unit- which he was driven from power. ed petitions of the people of England, or main- Lord Mansfield had a difficult part to act on tain the House of Commons in the exercise of a this occasion. He could not but have known legislative power, which heretofore abolished the that the expulsion of Wilkes was illegal; and House of Lords, and overturned the monarchy. this is obvious from the fact that he did not atI willingly acquit the present House of Com- tempt to defend it. He declared that, on this mons of having actually formed so detestable a point, " he had never given his opinion, he would design; but they can not themselves foresee to not now give it, and he did not know but he what excesses they may be carried hereafter; might carry it to the grave with him.” All he and, for my own part, I should be sorry to trust contended was, that“ if the Commons had passto their future moderation. Unlimited power is ed an unjustifiable vote, it was a matter between apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; God and their own consciences, and that nobody and this I know, my Lords, that where law ends, else had any thing to do with it.” Lord Chat tyranny begins !
ham rose a second time, and replied, " It plain
ly appears, from what the noble Lord has said, Lord Chatham's motion was rejected; but he that he concurs in sentiment with the Opposiwas sustained in his views by Lord Camden, tion; for, if he had concurred with the ministry, who was still Lord Chancellor, and of course a he would no doubt have avowed his opinionleading member of the Grafton ministry. He that it now equally behooves him to avow it in came down from the woolsack, and broke forth behalf of the people. He ought to do so as an in the following indignant terms: "I accepted honest man, an independent man, as a man of the great seal without conditions; I meant not, been more fully known, that the King dictated tho therefore, to be trammeled by his Majesty I
measures against Wilkes. He entered with all the his ground, and published his celebrated eulogium feelings of a personal enemy into the plan of expel. on Lord Chatham.
ling him from the House, and was at last beaten by This hasty expression shows, what has since the determination of his own subjects.
courage and resolutın. T, say, that if the it! I should have to do with it! Every man House of Commons has passed an unjustifiable in the kingdom would have to do with it! Every vote, it is a matter between God and their own man would have a right to insist on the repeal consciences, and that nobody else has any thing of such a treasonable vote, and to bring the au to do with it, is such a strange assertion as I thors of it to condign punishment. I would, have never before heard, and involves a doc- therefore, call on the noble Lord to declare luis trine subversive of the Constitution. What! opinion, unless he would lie under the imputation If the House of Commons should pass a vote of being conscious of the illegality of the vote, and abolishing this House, and surrendering to the yet of being restrained by some unworthy mo Crown all the rights and interests of the people, tive from avowing it to the world.” Lord Mans would it be only a matter between them and field replied not.”—Gentleman's Magazine for their conscience, and wald nobody have any January, 1770. ‘hing to do with it? You would have to do with
1 LOKD CHATHAM ON A MOTION OF LORD ROCKINGHAM TO INQUIRE INTO THE STATE OF THE
NATION, DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS, JANUARY 22, 1770.
INTRODUCTION. The preceding speech of Lord Chatham, in connection with the decisive step taken by Lord Camten, threw the Duke of Grafton and his ministry into the utmost confusion; and an adjournment of a week was resorted to, for the purpose of making new arrangements. During this time, the Marquess of Granby de. serted the administration, apologizing for the vote he bad given for seating Colonel Luttrell in the Houss, and deploring it as the greatest misfortune of his life. He resigned all his places, except his commission as Colonel. Mr. Grenville, Mr. Dunning, the Dukes of Beaufort and Manchester, the Earls of Coventry and Huntington, and a number of others, followed his example. A reconciliation took place between Lord Chatham and Lord Rockingham, and the Opposition was completely organized under their guidance. It was decided to follow up the blow at once, by a motion from Lord Rockingham for an “inquiry into the state of the nation," which allows the utmost latitude for examining into the conduct of a minister. Ac cordingly, Lord Rockingham moved such an inquiry, almost immediately after the Lords again met. In supporting this motion, he maintained, that the existing discontents did not spring from any immediato temporary cause, but from a maxim which had grown up by degrees from the accession of George III., viz., “that the royal prerogative was sufficient to support the government, whatever miglit be the hands to which the administration was committed." He exposed this Tory principle as fatal to the liberties of the people. The Duke of Grafton followed in a few explanatory remarks; and Lord Chatham then de livered the following speech, wbich contains some passages of remarkable boldness and even vebemence
SPEECH, &c.' My Lords, -I meant to have arisen imme- which ought to have beer an era of happiness diately to second the motion made by the noble and prosperity to this country.3 Lord [Rockingham). The charge which the My Lords, I shall give you my reasons for noble Duke (Grafton] seemed to think affected concurring with the motion, not methodically, himself particularly, did undoubtedly demand an but as they occur to my mind. I may wander, early answer. It was proper he should speak perhaps, from the exact parliamentary debate, before me, and I am as ready as any man to ap- but I hope I shall say nothing but what may deplaud the decency and propriety with which he serve your attention, and what, if not strictly has expressed himself.
proper at present, would be fit to be said when I entirely agree with the noble Lord, both in the state of the nation shall come to be considthe necessity of your Lordships' concurring with ered. My uncertain state of health must plead the motion, and in the principles and arguments my excuse. I am now in some pain, and very by which he has very judiciously supported it. probably may not be able to attend to my duty I see clearly that the complexion of our govern- when I desire it most, in this House. I thank ment has been materially altered ; and I can trace the origin of the alteration up to a period 3 When George III. came to the throne, England
was in the midst of that splendid career of victories | This is the topic so powerfully discussed in Mr. by which Lord Chatham bumbled the enemies of Burke's pamphlet, entitled, “Thoughts on the Cause his country, and established her power in every of the Present Discontents," one of the most inge. quarter of the globe. The peace which was made nious and able productions of that great writer. two years after, under the influence of Lord Bute,
* This speech, like the last, was reported at the was generally considered a disgrace to the nation, time by a gentleman, who is now ascertained to have and from that time dissatisfaction began to prevail Deen Sir Pbilip Francis.
in all classes of society.
God, my Lords, for having thus long pieserved My Lords, I can not agree with the noble so inconsiderable a being as I am, to take a part Duke, that nothing less than an immediate attack apon this great occasion, and to contribute my upon the honor or interest of this nation can ata endeavors, such as they are, to restore, to save, thorize us to interpose in defense of weaker states, to confirm the Constitution.
and in stopping the enterprises of an ambitious My Lords, I need not look abroad for griev- neighbor. Whenever that narrow, selfish pol.
The grand capital mischief is fixed at icy has prevailed in our councils, we have conhome. It corrupts the very foundation of our stantly experienced the fatal effects of it. By political existence, and preys upon the vitals of suffering our natural enemies to oppress the the statc. The Constitution has been grossly powers less able than we are to make resist. violated. The Constitution at this moment stands ance, we have permitted them to increase their violated. Until that wound be healed, until the strength, we have lost the most favorable opporgrievance be redressed, it is in vain to recom- tunities of opposing them with success, and found mend union to Parliament, in vain to promote ourselves at last obliged to run every hazard in concord among the people. If we mean seri- making that cause our own, in which we were ously to unite the nation within itsell, we must not wise enough to take part while the expense convince them that their complaints are regard- and danger might have been supported by othed, that their injuries shall be redressed. On ers. With respect to Corsica, I shall only say, that foundation I would take the lead in recom- that France has obtained a more useful and im mending peace and harmony to the people. On portant acquisition in one pacific campaign than any other, I would never wish to see them united in any of her belligerent campaigns—at least again. If the breach in the Constitution be effect while I had the honor of administering war ually repaired, the people will of themselves re- against her. The word may, perhaps, be thought turn to a state of tranquillity ; if not, may dis- singular. I mean only while I was the miniscord prevail forever. I know to what point this ter chiefly intrusted with the conduct of the war. doctrine and this language will appear directed. I remember, my Lords, the time when Lorraine But I feel the principles of an Englishman, and was united to the crown of France. That, tod, I utter them without apprehension or reserve. was in some measure a pacific conquest; and The crisis is indeed alarming. So much the there were people who talked of it as the noble more does it require a prudent relaxation on the Duke now speaks of Corsica. France was perpart of government. If the King's servants will mitted to take and keep possession of a noble not permita constitutional question to be decided province; and, according to his grace's ideas, on according to the forms and on the principles we did right in not opposing it. The effect of of the Constitution, it must then be decided in these acquisitions is, I confess, not immediate; some other manner; and, rather than it should but they unite with the main body by degrees, be given up, rather than the nation should sur- and, in time, make a part of the national strength. render their birthright to a despotic minister, II fear, my Lords, it is too much the temper of hope, my Lords, old as I am, I shall see the this country to be insensible of the approach of question brought to issue, and fairly tried be danger, until it comes with accumulated terror iween the people and the government. My upon us. Lord, this is not the language of faction. Let My Lords, the condition of his Majesty's afit be tried by that criterion by which alone we fairs in Ireland, and the state of that kingdom can distinguish what is factious from what is within itself, will undoubtedly make a very ma. not-by the principles of the English Constitu- terial part of your Lordship’s inquiry. I am not tion. I have been bred up in these principles, sufficiently informed to enter into the subject so and know, that when the liberty of the subject is fully as I could wish ; but by what appears in invaded, and all redress denied him, resistance the public, and from my own observation, I conis justified. If I had a doubt upon the matter, I fess I can not give the ministry much credit for should follow the example set us by the most the spirit or prudence of their conduct. I see reverend bench, with whom I believe it is a that even where their measures are well chosen, maxim, when any doubt in point of faith arises, they are incapable of carrying them through or any question of controversy is started, to ap- without some unhappy mixture of weakness or peal at once to the greatest source and evidence imprudence. They are incapable of doing enof our religion-I mean the Holy Bible. The tirely right. My Lords, I do, from my con. Cons'itution has its Political Bible, by which, if science, and from the best weighed principles it be fairly consulted, every political question of my understanding, applaud the augmentation may, and ought to be determined. Magna of the army. As a military plan, I believe it Cherta, the Petition of Rights, and the Bill of has been judiciously arranged. In a political Rights, form that code which I call the Bible of the English Constitution. Had some of his Maj
+ In the year 1768, France, under pretense of a esty's unhappy predecessors trusted less to the transfer from the Genoese (who claimed the island), comments of their ministers; had they been bet- brave resistance, but was overpowered, and fled 10
had seized apon Corsica. General Paoli made a les read in the text itself
, the glorious revolution England, where his presence excited a lively interwould have remained only possible in theory, and est in the oppressed Corsicans. Lord Chatham would not now have existed upon record a for- maintained that France ought to have been resist midable example to their successors
ed in this shameful act of aggression.