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2 Minister, and such a Parliament, let us suppose a Prince upon the throne, uninformed, and unacquainted with the interests, or inclinations of his people, weak, capricious, and actuated at once by the passions of ambition, and avarice. Should such a case ever occur, could any greater curse happen to a nation, than such a Prince, advised by such a Minister, and that Minister supported by such a Parliament ? The existence of such a Prince, and such a Minister no human laws may indeed be adequate to prevent: but the existence of such a Parliament may and ought to be prevented; and the repeal of the law in question I conceive to be a most obvious, necessary, and indispensable means for the accomplishment of that purpose.”
Much ingenuity was also displayed by Mr. PULTENEY, Mr. PELHAM, and other gentlemen on both sides of the question; after which the debate was closed by Sir ROBERT WALPOLE, the introductory part of whose reply was thus pointed at Sir WILLIAM WYNDHAM's stinging supposi
“ I do assure you, I did not intend to have troubled you in this debate ; but such incidents now generally happen towards the end of our debates, nothing at all relating to the subject, and gentlemen make such suppositions, ing some person, or perhaps as they say no person now existing, and talk so much of wicked ministers, domineering ministers, ministers pluming themselves in defiances, which terms and the like have been so much o late made use of in this House, that if they really mean nobody either in the House, or out of it, yet it must be supposed, they at least mean to call upon some gentleman in this House to make them a reply, and therefore I hope, I may be allowed to draw a picture in my turn--and I may likeVOL. I.
wise say, that I do not mean to give a description of any person now in being.–When gentlemen talk of ministers abandoned to all sense of virtue, or honor, other gentlemen may, I am sure, with equal justice and, I think, more justly speak of anti-ministers and mock-patriots, who never had either virtue or honor, but in the whole course of their opposition are actuated only by motives of envy, and of resentment against those who may have disappointed them in their views, or may not perhaps have complied with all their desires. But now, Sir, let me too suppose, and the House being cleared, I am sure no person that hears me can come within the description of the person, I am to suppose-let us suppose in this, or some other unfortunate country, an anti-minister, who thinks himself a person of so great, and extensive parts, and of so many eminent qualifications, that he looks upon himself as the only person in the kingdom capable to conduct the public affairs of the nation, and therefore christening every other gentleman, who has the honor to be employed in the administration, by the name of blunderer : suppose this fine gentleman lucky enough to have gained over to his party some persons really of fine parts-of ancient families —and of great fortunes, and others of desperate views, arising from disappointed and malicious hearts: all these gentlemen, with respect to their political behaviour, moved by him, and by him solely: all they say either in private, or in public, being only a repetition of the words he has put into their mouths; and a spitting out of that venom which he has infused into them: and yet we may suppose this leader not really liked by any, even of those who so blindly follow him, and hated by all the rest of mankind : We'll suppose this anti-minister to be in a country where he really ought not to be, and where he could not have been, but by an effect of too much goodness, and mercy: yet 3
endeavouring with all his might and with all his art to destroy the fountain from whence that mercy flowed: in that country suppose him continually contracting friendships, and familiarities with the ambassadors of those Princes, who at the time happen to be most at enmity with his own. And if at any time it should happen to be for the interest of any of those foreign ministers to have a secret divulged to them, which might be highly prejudicial to his native country-as well as to all its friends: suppose this foreign minister applying to him, and he answering him, I'll get it you, tell me, but what you want, I'll endeavour to procure it for you. Upon this he puts a speech or two
. in the mouth of some of his creatures, or some of his new converts : what he wants is moved for in Parliament; and when so very reasonable a request as this is refused, suppose him and his creatures and tools, by his advice, spreading alarm over the whole nation, and crying out, Gentlemen, our country is at present involved in many dangerous difficulties, all which we would have extricated you from, but a wicked minister, and a corrupt majority, refused us the proper materials ; and upon this scandalous victory, this minister became so insolent as to plume himself in defiances. Let us farther suppose this anti-minister to have travelled, and at every court where he was, thinking himself the greatest Minister, and making it his trade to betray the secrets of every court where he had before been ; void of all faith or honor, and betraying every master he had ever served. Sir, I could carry my suppositions a great deal farther; and, I may say, I mean no person now in being : but if we can suppose such a one, can there be imagined a greater disgrace to human nature than such a wretch as this ? Now, Sir, to be serious, and to talk really to the subject in hand. Though the question has already been so fully opposed, that there is no great occasion to say any thing farther against it: yet, I hope, the House will indulge me in the liberty of giving some of those reasons which induce me to be against the motion. In general, I must take notice, that the nature of our constitution seems to be very much mistaken by the gentlemen who have spoken in favor of this motion. It is certain that ours is a mixed government, and the perfection of our constitution consists in this : that the monarchical, the aristocratical, and democratical forms of government are mixed, and interwoven in ours, so as to give us all the advantages of each, without subjecting us to the dangers, and inconveniences of either.—The democratical form of government, which is the only one I have now occasion to take notice of, is liable to these inconveniences: that they are generally too tedious in their coming to any resolution: and seldom brisk and expeditious enough in carrying their resolutions into execution: that they are always wavering in their resolutions; and never steady in the measures they resolve to pursue: and that they are often involved in factions, seditions, and insurrections, which expose them to be made the tools, if not the prey of their neighbours : therefore in all the regulations we make with respect to our constitution, we are to guard against running too much into that form of government, which is properly called democratical: this was in my opinion the effect of the triennial law: and will again be the effect, if ever it should be restored.
“ That triennial Elections would make our government too tedious in all their resolves, is evident: because in such case no prudent administration would ever resolve upon any measure of consequence till they had felt not only the pulse of the parliament, but the pulse of the people: and the ministers of state would always labor under this disadvantage, that as secrets of state must not be immediately divulged, their enemies (and enemies they will always have) would have a handle for exposing their measures, and rendering them disagreeable to the people, and thereby carrying perhaps a new election against them, before they could have an opportunity of justifying their measures, by divulging those facts, and circumstances, from whence the justice, and wisdom of their measures would clearly appear.
“ Then, Sir, it is by experience well known, that what is called the populace of every country, are apt to be too much elated with success, and too much dejected with every misfortune: this makes them wavering in their opinion about affairs of the state: and never long in the same mind : and as this House is chosen by the free and unbiassed voice of the people in general, if this choice were so often renewed, we might expect that this House would be as wavering and unsteady as the people usually are : and it being impossible to carry on the public affairs of the nation without the concurrence of this House, the ministers would always be obliged to comply, and consequently would be obliged to change their measures as often as the people changed their minds.
" With septennial Parliaments, Sir, we are not exposed to either of these misfortunes, because if the ministers, after having felt the pulse of the Parliament, which they can always soon do, resolve upon any measures, they have generally time enough, before the new election comes on, to give the people proper information in order to shew them the justice, and the wisdom of the measures they have pursued : and if the people should at any time be too much elated, or too much dejected, or should without a cause change their minds, those at the helm of affairs have time to set them right before a new election comes on.