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The prerogatives of the Crown were mentioned by two honourable Baronets, as not a little affected by the conduct of the House; and one of them had expressly declared, that so far as it interfered with that of the Crown chusing its own Ministers, he could not go with it. He was sorry it had so happened during this important debate, that the distinction which the Constitution had established between a free and an absolute monarchy, had required so often to be stated. He declared, that the most consummate ruin would be the inevitable and immediate consequence of carrying any of those prerogatives which distinguished the respective estates of the Constitution to excess. Were this House on all occasions to be constantly pverawed by prerogative? Were the Royal powers which the Constitution vested in the Crown intended to have such an qperation? No man, he trusted, would hold such opinions; no man dared to hold such language in a free Parliament*
Many were the prerogatives of the Commons; but who would affirm that these were intended to act in a manner opposite to, or inconsistent with the public welfare? It was precisely the same case in both. His Majesty had undoubtedly the power of chusing his own Ministers, and the House of Commons of assigning the supplies. But were the one to take into his service any men, or set of men, most desirable to the Royal inclination, without any regard to how such an appointment might operate on the public, might not the House, with the same propriety, withhold the purse of the people? Both extremes ought to be avoided, because equally injurious to public welfare and that Constitution which depends on the tendency of all its seperate and combined virtues to this one great and substantial object.
This he stated only to shew how carefully the several powers of the Constitution were guarded against that proneness to abuse or prostitution which still adhered to all executive governments; and we were undoubtedly taught by it this capital lesson, that the Crown was endowed with no faculty whatever of a private nature; that all its functions were instituted for public benefit; and that whenever they were otherwise employed, the Constitution and the country were essentially affected.
But why had this House so much interest in the choice of Ministers? And why were all the operations of the Constitution endowed with this public tendency? The reason,
F a, which which to his mind was perfectly satisfactory, was, that as the business of the public were only so many actions of confidence and trust, the Minister was consequently under the necessity of possessing their good opinion in a very eminent degree, in order to be qualified for guiding an active and vigorous Government. •
In voting for the army extraordinaries, in voting especially for the navy, and in voting for a variety of other things, he considered the House as voting literally, and in every fense of the word, so much credit. How then was the Minister, who opposed a majority of the House, to possess this influence? How could he command these things, which must, however, be done, and without which there could be no Government, no Constitution, not even the vestiges of what we had always been, a people not less illustrious for our liberty than for our greatness? While, therefore, the duty of a Minister consisted in coalescing with a majority in Parliament, and in bowing to their decision, it was madness to think of existing a moment in such a capacity without that necessary and constitutional support. It was here they were to look for a sanction to all their measures, where they might expect an assistance equal to their exigence and principle, and where they would always find an asylum from those who disliked and wished to destroy them. This would give them dignity and weight, and second all their exertions. But without this, no sort of influence, whether personal or relative, would do them any credit, or bring them any solid sanction. His worthy colleague had referred to the people; and another gentleman (Commodore Johnstone) had stated it as hard, that for the fake of mere punctilio, the House should be obliged to address the Throne, or his Majesty, to change his Ministers, or the people to displace one who possessed their confidence.
He thought it was but fair that the matter should be stated fairly to the House. It was a good argument to fay the people of England were not represented sufficiently, when that was the subject before the House, as it then had its natural influence, and" it answered the purpose for which it was intended. It was an unfair, and not a true mode of reasoning, to say- that this House was not a full representation of the people, therefore its authority was of no weight in the Constitution. Did not this give the Crown such a manifest advantage in the Constitution as put it in immi
, nenj; nent danger? Might he not say, since by your own confession, the people are not represented, the Hfcufe of Commons must be insignisicanl and useless? The business of the country can better, more expeditiously, and with greater unanimity, be carried on without.it.
In that case, where were the people of this country to look for relief or sind protection? Not certainly in the House of Lords. For however that part of the Legislature operated, no man would fay it ever could be of any consequence as one of the great barriers of freedom. The only constitutional asylum of genuine liberty, he knew, even in this land of liberty, was the House of Commons, where the people of England assembled by their delegates and claimed an independence and a weight in the government, which they did in no other kingdom in the world. He wished gentlemen, therefore, would beware of extending their wishes for a reform of their representation any farther than was just. That the House was, in its present constitution, but an imperfect representation of the Commons of England, no man was more ready to own, and no man would go farther lengths than. he would in accomplishing a reform in that very material particular. But it was improperly applied to the present question; for it went to annihilate that system of representation which it would be dangerous to do before there was a better in its room.
The honourable Baronet too had appealed, for the fense of the people, to the variety of addresses which were manufacturing, probably for the purpose of flattering the present Administration. These at least were conjured up in such a manner, made their appearance in such a questionable shape, and owed their existence to such means, that, in his opinion, they might well damn a very strpng, but could never prove any very solid support to a weak and tottering Administration. He could only speak of those places of the country he knew; and many of these were not certainly the least respectable in the kingdom. But in these all was hitherto sullen silence. No one more patriotic than others had yet, in a variety of the most- capital counties in the kingdom, come forward, and urged this most acceptable measure. In Middlesex his very worthy colleague would own there did not seem any very pressing and active propensity for a measure thus courtly and desirable. The artisices used so near at hand were no inexpressive specimens of those which, being at a greater distance from the scene of action,
tion, could be the more perfectly accompliflied, without that ridicule an* contempt which were the certain concomitants of detection.
He had also heard of an address in the city of Westminster, which undoubtedly was one of the most curious and singular that ever was carried any where, or by any individuals, ofjany description. This would, to be sure, flourish, as well as another of the fame fort, in a Gazette j but he believed his own colleague, fond as he seemed to be of such 3 mode .of collecting the opinion of the people, would not like to join the party who should present such an address at St. James's. He, for bis own part, was astonished that any Ministry or party could be so blind, so proud to their popularity, so eager to retain their situation, or so solicitous for a confidence they had forfeited, as to think that the good fense of the people of England were to be thus abused. To imagine that practices of this description would'conciliate the good opinion of the public, was in fact treating them with indignity and insult. A device so shallow and barefaced was enough to ruin the best cause J and were it even to be adopted by the best men, would also ruin them; and he trusted the people of this country would not rashly take the opinion of it from a medium so grossly and palpably partial. Indeed there was at present no other legal way of learning what the general voice was but the fense of the House; and by that, till another, a better, and a more decisive^ one took place, they were bound by the constitution, strictly, firmly, literally, and uniformly to abide.
Hefe then was the great obstacle to that desirable union which so respectable a body of individuals in that house had so much at heart. The right honourable gentleman, for no reason he has deigned to give, will consent to resign a situation, which it were treachery to the House, to the publie, to the Constitution, to admit. The resolutions of the House were opposed to him as the'Minister of the Crown. Whether therefore are these to be supported in opposition to the Minister, or the Minister in opposition to these? Would such a competition bear a question in this House? He does hold his head high enough, but the dignity of the House must not yield to him, nor to any individual whatever. What reasons has he once condescended to produce for his strange, unprecedented conduct? Can he imagine this House are to credit his bare assertions, in flat opposition so the molt decisive circumstances I TMight it not be evpecw • ted ted that any one in such a situation would be glad to afford the House every satisfaction in their power? Has he in any cafe whatever signisied the least inclination of this kind? And what construction less than a direct insult to the dignity of Parliament, not to mention the feelings of individuals, can such a demeanour bear?
But the honourable gentleman, with the most provident attention to those affairs which his peculiar obstinacy so essentially mars and deranges, must fee the probability of a sirm and essicient Administration before he gave way to the wishes of the people. This very odd kind of a reason was easily accounted for from his official relation to the learned gentleman (Mr. Dundas) who sits with him on the fame bench. He, for one, would not easily forget the language of that learned gentleman on an occasion similar to the present in one sense, though extremely dissimilar in another. When his noble friend in the blue ribband had been urged to retire from office, the learned gentleman, who will always resist such arguments against his own party with all his ability, was anxious to know among the candidates then for office, who were most qualisied to succeed"4 and this he urged as a reason for the former Ministry keep-' ing their situations, that those who had, as he thought, an eye to their places, were not in unison among themselves. But how did the right honourable gentleman turn that argument? Why; said he, are tfiose on this side of the. House to be catechised, because you on that are inadequate to your situation? An answer which, if good then, must be good still. Then, with what pertinence or propriety could this be assigned as the ground on which the Minister keeps his place, since it might have been much more appo-^ sitely urged when he ussumed it? Those whom he succeeded made use of no such language. They knew their duty was obedience, and they submitted. But surely if therecan be any force in the reasoning, it was then muchstronger than now. What probability had the right honourable gentleman to erect a solid and permanent Ministry against those who -possessed a majority of this House, of so decided and complete a kind as has hardly been exemplisied in our times?
He would not therefore fay how far the precedent might gpi He would not use the indecent language of calling any individual in that House a dictator. He trusted Parliament would ever prove equal to its own protection,
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