Page images
PDF
EPUB

ic part, been defended as a&ts of power, necesary to prevent insurre&ion, and punish conspiracy : but it appeared to us, that in these pra&ices Government was combating effe &s, and not causes; and that those pra&ices encrease these causes-and, therefore, will encrease those effe as: that, admitring every charge of conspiracy and disaffe&tion in its fullest extent that confpiracy and disaffection are only effe&ts of that great fundamental cause that parent conspiracy, formed fome years ago, to procure, by corruption, despotic power. That is the cause--and that cause a&ts according to the reception of its matter, and the tempers and conftitutions to which it applies ; and therefore produces, in some men difloyalty, in some men republicanism, in some the spirit of reform--but in all, deep, great, and growing discontent. That is the cause and the poison which has made some men mad, and all men fick: and, though the Government may not be able to restore reason to the mad, or loyalty to the republican-yet, if they mean to restore health to the lickif they mean to restore content and confidence to all, to most, or to any considerable portion of the People, they must take away the poison—they must remove the caulethey must reform the Parliament. They have told us at some times, and at other times they have said the contrary, that it is a spirit of plunder, not politics, that is abroad: idle talk! whatever be the crime of the present spirit, it is not the crime of theft-if so, it were easily put down; no, it is a political, not a predatory spirit: it is the spirit of po. litical reformation, carried to different degrees; to liberty, in most instances--to ambition in others and to power in others : and even in these cases where charged to be carried to confiscation, it is evident, from the charge itself, that confiscation looks to political vengeance, not private plun. der ; and therefore the best way of laying that spirit, of whatever designs or intents, is to lay the pre-existing spirit of unlawful power and unconftitutional influence, that has frighted the People from Parliament, and has called to our world that other potent and uncircumfstibed apparition The way to defend your property is to defend your liberty; and the best method to fecure your house against a Defender, is to secure the Commons House against a Minister. “There

was ambition, there was fedition, there was violence, “ mixing in the public eause,” said Lord Chatham to Mr. Flood, in a private conversation, as he told me, on the civil

war

.

war between Charles I. and his people. “ There was," faid he, « ambition—there was fedition there was vio“ lence ;-but no man will persuade me, that it was not “ the cause of liberty on one side, and tyranny on the “ other.” So here there

So here there may be conspiracy—there may be republicanism—there may be a spirit of plunder mixing in the public.cause ;--but it is a public cause ; and let no man persuade you that it is not the cause of liberty on one side, and tyranny on the other. The historian of these melancholy and alarming times, censuring, perhaps, both the Minister and the Opposition-and censuring us more for our relaxation than violence, will, if a candid man, close the fad account by observing, “ that, on the whole, the cause “ of the Irish distraction of 97, was the condu&t of the “ feryants of Government endeavouring to establish, by “ unlimited bribery, absolute power ; that the system of “ coercion was a necessary consequence, and part of the “ system of corruption, and that the two fyftems, in their “ success, would have established a ruthless and horrid ty“ ranny-tremendous, and intolerable !--imposed on the “ Senate by influence, and the People by arms." Against such excess of degradation-against any excess whatsoeverwe moved the middle, and, as we thought, the composing and the falutary measure—a Reform of Parliament, which should give a Constitution to the People—and the Catholic Emancipation, which should give a People to the Constitution.' We supported that measure by the arguments herein advanced; and we defended ourselves by such, against a deluge of abuse, conveyed in the public prints against us, on account of that measure; and I re-state those arguments, that, however the majority of the House of Commons might have been affe&ed, your understanding may not be carried away by such a torrent of inve&ive. We urged those considerations—we might have added in our defence the dangers of invasion, and insurrection, panics most likely to incline the Minister to concur in such a measure, which measure seems to be our best, I might say our only defence against those dangers and those panics; we might have added considerations of the immense expence attendant on the working, as it is called, of this Borough Constitution: which expence may be called the prodigality of misrepresentation, or the huge and gigantic profusion which the people fupply for turning themselves out of Par

liament.

D 2

liament. It is well known that the price of borough, is from 14 to 16,000 l. and has in the course of not many years increased one-third; a proof at once of the extravagance and audacity of this abuse, which thus looks to immortality, and proceeds, unawed by the times and uninAtructed by example; and, in moments which are held alarming, entertains no fear, conceives no panie, and feels no remorse which prevents the chapman and dealer to go on at any risque with his villainous little barter, in the very rockings and frownings of the elements, and makes him tremble indeed at liberty, but not at crimes. “ Suspend the “ habeas corpus ad-take away the poor man- send the " reformer to Newgate-imprison the North; but for the " trade of Parliament--for the borough-broker of that « trade, don't affe&t him; give him a gunpowder act, give " him a convention bill, give him an insurre&ion bill, give 66 him an indemnity bill, and, having saturated him with “ the liberty of his country, give him all the plunder of “ the State.” Such is the pra&ical language of that great Noun of Multitude-the borough-broker, demurring on the troubles of the times, which he himself has principally caused, and lying at the door of a secretary full of cores and exa&tions. This sum I speak of, this 14 or 16,000). muft ultimately be paid by you: it is this increase of the price of boroughs which has produced the increase of the expence of your establishments, and this increase of the expence of your establifhment, which has produced this increase for the price of your boroughs; they operate alternately like caufe and effect, and have within themselves the double principle of rapid ruin-so that the people pay their members as formerly, but pay them more, and pay them for representing others, not themselves, and giving the public purse, full and open, to the Minister, and rendering it back empty to the people. Oh, unthrifty. People! who ever surrendered that invaluable right of paying your own representatives rely on it, the people must be the prey if they are not the paymasters. To this public expence we are to add the monstrous and bankrupt waite of private property, becoming now so great that honest men cannot in any number afford to come into Parliament; the expence amounts to a child's portion, and the child must be wronged, or the father sold or excluded. Thus, in the borough constitution, is private virtue and public set at variance, and men must re

nounce

[ocr errors][merged small]

nounce the service of their country or the interest of their
family; from this evil, the loss of private fortune, a much
greater loss is likely hereafter to take place, the loss of ta-
lent in the public service; for this great expence mult in the
end work out of Parliament all unftipendiary talent that acts
for the people, and supply it by stipendiary talent shat acts
against them. What man of small fortune, what man of
great fortune can now afford to come into the House of
Commons or fustain the expace of a seat in Parliament, or
of a contested ele&tion? and what open place, except in a
very few instances, (the city is one of them) where the clec.
tors return without cost to their representatives. I know
some who have great talents and have exercised them in the
public service, are disposed to decline situations to the ho-
neft individual so expensive, and to the public now so un-
profitable. To this I am to add a greater evil than those
already stated, the expenditure of morals. What shall we
say for the morals of a country--how many years purchase
would you give for her virtue, whose Ministry founded its
authority on moral depravity, and formed a league and
covenant with an oligarchy to transfer for bire, virtually
and substantially, the powers of legislation to the Cabinet of
another kingdom. We inveigh against other combinations
-what sort of a combination is this? This, I know not
by what name to approach it, shoots its virus into the heart
and marrow of the higher orders of the country. Make
your People honest, says the Court-make your Court
honest, says the People;- it is the higher classes that intro-
duce corruption-thieving may be learned from poverty
but corruption is icarned from riches—it is a venal court
that makes a venal country--that vice descends from above;
the peasant does not go to the castle for the bribe, but the
castle candidate goes to the peasant and the castle candi-
date offers the bribe to the peasant, because he expeas in a
much greater bribe to be repaid by the Minister; thus
things go on; 'tis imposible they can last:--the trade of
Parliament ruins every thing ; your Ministers rested their
authority entirely on that trade, till now they call in the aid
of military power to enforce corruption by ihe sword-othe
laws did, in my judgment, afford the Crown fufficient power
to administer the country, and preserve the connexion witin
Great Britain, but our Minifters have despised the ordinary
trad and plain, obvious, legitimate and vulgar bonds between

the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the King and the subje&t; they have resorted to the guinea and the gallows, as to the only true and faithful friends of Government, and try to hang where they cannot corrupt; they have extended the venal stipendiary principle to all constituted authorities; they have given the taint to the grave Corporator as well as the Senator, and have gone into the halls and streets to communicate the evil to the middling and orderly part of the society; they have attempted the independency of the bar. I have great obje&ions to the bar. bill—and my objeđions are great in proportion to my stgards for the profession, whose signal services to the cause of liberty must prove to every man's convi&ion how valuable the acquisition, and how inestimable the loss of that profound and acute profession must be to the cause of a country such as this was formerly where the rule of government was the law of the land. We have heard of complaints againft systems of disorganization ; what is this fyftem ? Is not the corruprion of organized bodies their dissolution? Is not their perverfion worse than their diffolution? What shall we say of the attempts of Ministers on Sheriffs, and the appointment of that magiftrate with a view to Parliamentary influence only-and to the prevention of legal aggregate meetingsmand the suppression of the public sentiment. Thele things must have an end-this disorganization of constituted authorities by court influence must have an end. I am not fuperftitious - but I know that States, like individuals, are punished; it is to prevent their punishment we essayed their reformation ; they aré punifhed collectively, and they are punished slowly, but they are punished: where the people are generally or universally corrupt, the society comes to a state of dissolution; where that corruption is confined 10 those who administer the country that power must come to a state of dissolution; but in order to prevent the society from partaking of that corruption and consequence of that corrupt dissolution, it is necessary that the power that adninistess the country should be brought speedily and radically to a state of reformation; the best systems are not immortal; are the worst? Is the trade of Parliament immortal? Have the best systems perished ?-and shall this be impaffable and everlasting, infinite in its duration, as it is unbounded in its profigacy. What was the case of Carthageof Rome--and of the court of France? What is the case of the court of England? Sitting under the stroke of Justice for the

American

« PreviousContinue »