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out endeavouring, in the best manner I am able, to declare publicly the reasons which induced me to give my most ready afsent to this question.
The people have an unquestionable right to frequent new Parliaments by ancient usage; and this usage has been confirmed by several laws, which have been progressively made by our ancestors, as often as they found it necessary to infift on this essential privilege.
PARLIAMENTs uere generally annual, but never continued longer than three years, tili the remarkable reign of Henry VIII. He, Sir, was a prince of unruly appetites, and of an arbitrary will; he was impatient of every reAtraint; the laws of God and man fell equally a sacrifice, as they stood in the way of his avarice, or disappointed his ambition : he therefore introduced long Parliaments, because he very well knew, that they would become the proper instruments of both; and what a slavilh obedience they paid to all his measures is íutâciently k'.own.
If we come to the reign of King Charles the First, we must acknowledge him to be a prince of a contrary temper;. he had certainly an innate love for religion and virtue. But here lay the misfortune-he was led from his natural disposition by fycophants and flatterers; they advised him to neglect the calling of frequent new parliaments, and there. fore by not taking the constant sense of his people in what he did, he was worked up into fo high a notion of prerogative, that the Commons (in order to restrain it) obtained that independent fatal power, which at last unhappily brought him to his moft tragical end, and at the same time fubverted the whole constitution. And I hope we shall learn this leffon from it, never to compliment the crown with any new or extravagant powers, nor to deny the people those rights,
which by ancient usage they are entitled to; but to preserve the just and equal balance, from which they will both derive mutual security, and which, if duly observed, will render our constitution the envy and admiration of all the world.
KING CHARI.Es the second naturally took a surfeit of Parliaments in his father's time, and was therefore extremely desirous to lay them aside. But this was a scheme impracticale. However, in eficat, he did fo: for he obtained a Parliament, which, by its long duration, like an army of veterans, became so exactly disciplined to his own measures, that they knew no other command but from that person who gave them their pay.
This was a safe and most ingenious way of enslaving a nation. It was very well known, that arbitrary power, if it was open and avowed, would never prevaii here. The people were therefore amused with this specious form of their ancient constitution : it existed, indeed, in their fancy; but like a mere phantom, had no subitance nor reality in it; for the power, the authority, the dignity of Par. liaments were wholly lost. This was that remarkable Parliament which so justly obtained the opprobrious name of the PENSION PARLIAMENT; and was the model from which, I blieve, some later Parliaments have been exactly copied.
At the time of the revolution, the people made a fresh claim of their ancient privileges; and as they had so lately experienced the misfortune of long and servile Parliaments, it was then declared, that they should be held frequently. But, it seems, their full meaning was not understooa by this declaration ; and therefore, as in every new settlement the intention of all parties should be specifically manifested, the Parliament never ceased struggling with the crown, till the triennial law was obtained; the preamble of it is extremely
full and strong; and in the body of the bill you will find the word declared before enacted, by which I apprehend, that' though this law did not immediately take place at the time of the revolution, it was certainly intended as declaratory of their first meaning, and therefore stands a part of that original contract under which the conftitution was then feriled. His Majesty's title to the crown is primarily derived from that contract; and if, upon a review, there shall appear to be any deviations from it, we ought to treat them as ro many injuries done to that title. And I dare say, that. this house, which has gone through so long a series of fervices to his Majesty, will at last be willing to revert to thofe original stated measures of government, to renew and ftrengthen that title.
BUT, Sir, I think the manner in which the feptennial law was first introduced, is a very strong reason why it should be repealed. People, in their fears, have very often re. course to desperate expedients, which, if not cancelled in feafon, will themselves prove fatal to that constitution, which they were meant to secure. Such is the nature of the rep. tennial law; it was intended only as a preservative against a temporary inconvenience : the inconvenience is removed, but the mischievous effects still continue ; for it not only altered the constitution of Parliaments, but it extended that same Parliament beyond its natural duration ; and thereforecarries this most unjuft implication with it, That you may at any time ufurp the most indubitable, the most essential privilege of the people I mean that of choofing their own representatives. A precedent of fuch dangerous confequence, of fo fatal a tendency, that I think it would be a reproach to our statute-book, if that law was any longer io fubfift, which might record it to pofterity.
This is a season of virtue and public spirit. Let us take advantage of it to repeal those laws which infringe our liberries, and introduce such as may refore the vigour of our ancient conftitution.
Human nature is so very corrupt, that all obligations lose their force, unless they are frequently renewed.Long Parliaments become therefore independent of the people, and when they do fo, there always happens a most dangerous dependence elsewhere.
LONG Parliaments give the minister an opportunity of getting acquaintance with members, of practiling his several arts to win them into his schemes. This must be the work of time.Corruption is of so base a nature, that at first fight it is extremely shocking.-Hardly any one has submitted to it all at once.-His difpofition must be previously understood, the particular bait must be found out with which he is to be allured; and after all, it is nat without many ftruggles that he surrenders his virtue.-Indeed, there are some who will at once plunge thenyfelves into any base action, but the generality of mankind are of a more cautious nature, and will proceed only by leisurely degrees.----One or two perhaps have deferted their colours the first campaign, fome have done it a second. But a great many, who have not that eager disposition to vice, will wait till a third.
For this reason, short Parliaments have been less corrupt than long ones; they are observed, like streams of water, always to grow more impure the greater distance they run from the fountain head,
I am aware, it may be said, that frequent new Parliaments. will produce frequent new expences, but I think quite the contrary; I am really of opinion, that it will be a proper re
medy against the evil of bribery at elections, especially as you have provided so wholesome a law to co-operate upon these occasions.
BRIBERY at elections, whence did it arise? Not from country gentlemen, for they are sure of being chosen without it; it was, Sir, the invention of wicked and corrupt minifters, who have, from time to time, led weak Princes into such destructive measures, that they did not dare to rely upon the natural representation of the people.---Long Parliaments, Sir, first introduced bribery, because they were worth purchasing at any rate :--Country gentlemen, who have only their private fortunes to rely upon, and have no mercenary ends to serve, are unable to oppose it, especially if at any time the public treasure sali be unfaithfully squandered away to corrupt their boroughs.-Country gentlemen, indeed, may make some weak efforts; but as they generally prove unsuccessful, and the time of a fresh struggle is at fo great a distance, they at last grow faint in the dispute, give up their country for lost, and retire in despair.- Despair naturally produces indolence, and that is the proper disposition for slavery. Ministers of fate understand this very well, and are therefore unwilling to awaken the nation out of its lethargy, by frequent elections.—They know that the spirit of liberty, like every other virtue of the mind, is to be kept alive only by constant action; that it is impossible to enslave this nation, while it is perpetually upon its guardo--Let country gentlemen then, by having frequent opportunities of exerting themselves, be kept warm and active in their contention for the public 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