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To Sir MILES WHARTON.
Fleet-ftreet, March 5, 1712-13. HAVE not the happiness to be in the leaft known to you, but have, with all England, obligations to you for the greatnefs of mind which you exerted in refufing, not long ago* to be made a peer of this realm in an hafty and furreptitious manner: it was not fo much as pretended that the dozen of nobles were then introduced for any other purpose, but to gain a question of the highest importance, no less than a queftion of peace and war. Were the point obtained by it never fo much conducive to our good, the novelty, if not obviated for the future, cannot but tend to the apparent danger of the Queen and all her fubjects. It is from a report that there are another half dozen to be made within few days, that I am engaged to give you this trouble.
You, Sir, who are adorned with more than title, a fuperiority to it, from the refufal of it when you thought it inconfiftent with honour, are the propereft man to be addreffed, when I confider the danger of making occafional Lords, and lay before the world this fatal novelty, as it affects the Queen's moft Excellent Majefty, the
*In January 1711-12.
House of Peers, and the whole People of Eng
Honour is the confcience of doing just and laudable actions, independent of the fuccefs of thofe actions. God is the fountain of this honour, and animates and fupports all who are actuated by it; he is an inexhauftible fountain, and cannot be impaired by his creations. But if it be not prophane to mention, so near after his Omnipotence, any diftinctions we give one another here, I would proceed to say, that it is not fo with fovereigns upon earth, whom we phrase "fountains of honour." They, alas! are themselves diminished in proportion to what they grant out of themselves. An unguarded and lavish hand, in grants of this kind, would very foon make the honour, flowing from a prince, of no value and confideration to those on whom it is bestowed, and take away any power of giving more from the giver. To come immediately to the point; I affert, that the numerous creation of Peers is the greatest wound that can be given to the prerogative. A Peer and his heirs are checks in the legislature to the Queen and her heirs; that part of the legisla ture which is in the Queen, is apparently diminished by fo much as the gives out of it, from her own into other families. This is equally deftructive with relation to the merit of the perfons on whom honour is conferred; if they hap
pen to be men who are barely unblameable, without talents or high qualifications, they do but croud that illuftrious affembly, and, like all other crowds, they are ferviceable and hurtful but just as they are inspired by those who have fkill to lead them. Thus the Crown is no way! fure of their concurrence any farther than by promise of their first vote; and they may ever after turn patriots on the fide of the people, to the conftant interruption of affairs; for it generally happens, that thofe who are conscious of an inability to promote bufinefs, give themselves a figure, and fancy they are confiderable, from the power of retarding it. Thus much as to what regards the Queen's moft excellent Ma jefty.
As to the Houfe of Peers, it is visible to any thing above a natural fool, that the power of each Lord is fo much lefs confiderable as it is repeated in other perfous: but the great hardfhip to that great and aweful body, whofe privileges have so often been a fafety and protec tion to the rights of us below them, I fay, the great hardship to thefe noble patriots is, that when they are prepared with the moft ftri&t honour and integrity to do their duty in relation to their prince and country, all their determinations may be avoided by a fett of people brought in the moment before they come to a queflion. This has been done once, as I am credibly informed,
formed, in fo frank a way, that there have been above fix at a time brought into that place, without any farther preamble than, "this gen
tleman's name is fo; do not call him Mr. "from this time forward, but my Lord, for he is now one of you: fit close there, let the "gentleman fit down; I beg pardon, make way "for his Lordship."
Now when we come to confider the introduction of occafional Lords with regard to the people; what can be more plain, than that it is doing all that is neceffary to take from them. both liberty and property at once. If there were nothing in being a Lord, but the advantage of being received with more diftinction and ceremony, let it be given to any who are de lighted with it; they may be well pleased, and we not hurt. But the cafe is much otherwife; for from the very moment a man has a patent, and is introduced into the House of Peers (though he was the day before notoriously ignorant in our laws), men appeal to him from the decree of all the Judges. Besides this, the Lords are perpetual legiflators, and have a hand in the repealing as well as making laws; by which means the whole conftitution may be fubverted by this one innovation. And it is plain, that the Prince who fhould place fo entire a confidence in his miniftry, as to give peerage upon their recommendation, would enable
enable them by that power in the legislature, joined to the execution of the regal authority as minifters, to give that prince and nation to the next potentate who should be powerful enough to receive and maintain so vast a present.
However well difpofed men's minds may be, there are some things which are not to be committed to their wills.
The whole conftitution is in danger, if this matter is not prevented by fome future law; and I think I have in my head a fufficient expedient, that can no way impair the prerogative of the Crown, the power of the Peers, or the liberty of the people; and that is, that a bill be brought in, to disable any peer to vote in any cafe, till three years after the date of his patent.
You fee, noble Sir, that, without giving the matter the leaft aggravation, I have fhewn, that if this avenue to the House of Lords is not shut, that House must be blown up by it as effectually as it might have been by the combuftible matter laid under it an age ago by Guido Faux.
He that brings the torch into the room to fire it in the midst of the company, differs from him who undermines it only in point of modesty,
It is amazing that fuch care fhould be taken to prohibit an occafional Conformist from being a conftable, and nobody takes it in his head to prevent an occafional Lord from being a judge, nay, a legiflator. I am very willing that a good and honourable peace may expiate this step, which