Page images
PDF
EPUB

is, because her Majesty, at I before said, was pleased to declare in plain Terms, that Ihe had . a perfect good Understanding with the House

of Hanover.

And now, Sir, is there a Fault, after this, in wishing that his Electoral Highness would . be so grateful as to signisie to all the World, the perfect good Understanding he has with the Court of England. It is certain such a Declaration as this would quiet the Minds of all her Majesty's Subjects upon this important Article; and why should it he Criminal in me to wish for that, which would so manifestly redound to the Peace of our Country? Let every Gentleman ask his own Heart, whether he would not be glad that the Elector made such a Declaration as is here mentioned. And shall any Man be esteemed an Offender for .wishing that which every Man would be glad of? If there he any Reflection in this Passage, it is plain that it does not fall upon her Majesty; aud I question not but that in a Point of this Nature, Gentlemen will be so jast as to keep my plain and express Words, and not to force a guilty Interpretation upon a Passage which has a natural Interpretation that is innocent.

I have now explained those several Paragraphs which have been laid to my Charge, and that in the shortest Manner I was able; reserving to my self the Liberty of producing any further Reasons, for the Defence of any particular Passage, as the Objections of my Accusers and my own Justification Ihall further require.

I must declare, Sir, that upon the Perusal of those Paragraphs which.have been marked a

-gainst

gainst me, I have been more puzzled to know why I ought to defend them, than how they ought to be defended? And I dare appeal to any Gentleman who is used to read Pamphlets, •whether he has seen any of either side for some Years past, that have been written with more Caution, or more thoroughly guarded against giving any Occasion of just Offence.

Upon the whole Master, I do humbly conceive that no Words which I have made use of can be censured as Criminal, in the Candid and natural Interpretation of them, and can only be construed as such by distant Implications and far fetch'd Inuendoes. I shall therefore beg Leave to produce the Authority of a very great Man, with Reference to Accusations of this Nature: Since it is impossible for me to express my self with so much Judgment and Learning upon this Subject, as I find it already done to my Hand. The Passages I mention, are in the Speech of the now Lori Chancellor of England, as I find them in Doctor SacbevereW'sTryal, in the following Words.'

* My Lords, if there be a double Sense, in « either of which these Words are equally ca« pable of being understood; if in one Sense the « Doctor's Assertion be undeniably clear, but

* in the other some Doubt might arise whether

* his Words be Criminal or not, the Law of

* England is more merciful than to make any 'Man a Criminal, by construing his Words aAgainst the natural Import of them, in the

* worst Sense. This is the great Justice and

* Clemency of our Law in every Man's Case.

'Ot And

And a little lower. * My Lords, if the manner of this solemn Pro

* secution has not alter'd the Nature of Things, I « hope 1 may infill, without putting in aClaim

* of Right in behalf of all the Factious and Se

* ditious People in the Kingdom, to revile the 'Government at pleasure, that by the happy « Constitution under which we live, a Subject 'of England is not to be made Criminal by a « labour'd Construction of doubtful Words;

* or, when that cannot serve, by departing « from his Words, and resorting to his Mean

* ing. Too many Instances there were of this 'nature, before the late happy Revolution; but

* that put an end to such Arbitrary Constru'ctions. >

After these Excellent Words of this Great Man, every thing I can fay will appear very flat and low; for which Reason 1 shall give you but very little further Trouble. I have heard it said in this Place, that no private Man ought to take the Liberty of expressing his Thoughts as I have done, in Matters relating to the Administration. I doown, that no private Man ought to take a Liberty which is against the Laws of the Land. But, Sir, I presume that the Liberty I have taken, is a legal Liberty; and obnoxious to no Penalty in any Court of Justice. If it had, I cannot believe that this eiraordinary Method would have been made use of, to distress me upon that Account. And why should I here suffer for having done tha*i which perhaps in a future Tryal would not be judged Criminal by the Laws of the Land? Why should I see Persons, whose particular Province it is to prosecute Seditious Writers in the

Courts

Courts of Justice, imploying their Eloquence against me in this Place? I think that I have not offended against any Law in Being : I think that I have taken no more Liberty than what is consistent with the Laws of the Land: If I have, let me be tried by those Laws. Is not the Executive Power sufficiently armed to inflict a proper Punishment on all kinds of Criminals? why then should one part of the Legislative Power, take this Executive Power into iisown Hands? But, Sir, I throw my self upon the Honour of this House, who are Able, as well as Obliged, to skreen any Commoner of England from the Wrath of the most powerful Man in it; and who will never sacrisice a Member of their own Body, to the Resentments of any single Minister.

; Here I ended in the House. Most of what I said was put into my Mouth by my Friends, whose Kindness and Discretion prevented my adding to these forcible Arguments many honest Truths, which they thought would Authorise a Severity from the House to me, rather than secure me against their Resentment. 1 cannot, as an indifferent Man, dare to assert what I would have done, under the Sanction of a Member of Parliament, speaking in Parliament. The Happiness of convincing seme honest Gentlemen who were against me, was not to be my Fate: But, (barring that I made the best and most respectful Obeysance I could to the Speaker) with a very awkard and unwilling Air I withdrew; and the next News I heard was, that I was Expelled.

It is. Justice due to Human Nature, to signisie to an Offender why he is punished. It is a JuO 3 sticc slice to inform the meanest Man in Humyi Society, why he is distinguished from the rest to his Disadvantage; it is a Christian Doty to givs him the Contrition he ought to have, and work in him a Repentance from Arguments towards his Conviction. But the House, without letting me hear one Reason, or Shadow of an Argument to prove me Seditious, have peremptorily pronounced me so.

To hear a Man speak, without being moved by what he says, or controverting it before Sentence, is only to give Exercise to an hard Heart; a ridiculous Candour, that is an Aggravation of an Injury, by putting on the Face of Justice. I Ihall therefore, as briefly as I can, consider the Matter yet further: For I am now as much concerned to Ihow why this Sentence sliould not be a Reproach to me now it is passed, as I was before to speak against, its being pronounced.

it may be objected, that I am sure to come off, when I who am the Criminal, am also to be the Judge. I may make the same Objection against the Determination os the House, they who were the Judges, were also the Accusers. In the first Place I aver, that if I had, as indeed I have not, been guilty of raising groundless Fears to the Disadvantage of the Ministry, it is less the Part of the House of Commons, than any other Body of Men, to be Inquisitors in Favour of them. Their more graceful Province had been to have encouraged what I had to fay, if I had had Objections, rather than suppressed me for offering aft it. •*

« PreviousContinue »