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ation more glorious than from its fall, and trusted we might feel no second fall." That argument he considered as deficient, because he did not advert to the causes which produced that state of adversity, from which we had just emerged; and he proposed at the time a measure, by which the nation might be guarded against a second humiliation. Whether the remedy would or would not have been effectual, he knew not; but this he knew, that the remedy was rejected, and the country was again reduced to a state of calamity, which made the effects of the American war, when compared with it, trifling, and our situation after it enviable. If, as the noble Lord contended, the prosperity of the country was matter of credit to the house of commons, and if it was an argument against any change in the constitution of that assembly, the disasters which it has lately suffered, and the state of adversity to which it is now reduced, was to the full as good an argument either against its wisdom or its virtue, and in favor of a change of constitution. In stating the evils arising from universal suffrage, the noble Lord instanced the government of France, under which that mode of election obtained, and the profuse expenditure consequent upon it. Here again Mr. GREY contended, that he had the advantage of the noble Lord in argument, for if extravagance and prodigality were fairly charged as objections to the constitution of the government of France, would not the same objection apply with equal force to the profuse expenditure of public money in this country, the guardianship of which immediately belongs to the house of commons? What, since that time, had been our situation? We had been reduced from a state of great and unparalleled prosperity to a state, if not of despondency, at least of imminent danger and deep distress. Under the pressure of great and accumulated calamities, how had the house of commons conducted itself? Had they shewn
either the vigilance of enquiry or independence of spirit? Had they investigated the origin of their misfortunes, or checked ministers in their mad and ruinous career? Nay, the very reverse. In a war, remarkable only for misfortune, and distinguished on our part solely by disgrace, they had suffered ministers to go on from failure to failure, adding misconduct to misfortune, and madness to folly, without either investigation or enquiry. When attacks were made on the liberties and even the lives of the subject, the house of commons did not interpose in behalf of freedom invaded, or innocence assaulted! When the shores of our sister kingdom were laid open and defenceless to the fleets of an invading enemy, no enquiry was instituted into the cause of such gross and criminal neglect. When, by the mandate of the privy council, the bank of England stopped payment, and a shock unequalled at any other time was given to public credit, the minister was absolved upon his own excuses from any kind of censure. Having stated the effects of the system, it was needless to enter upon the mode of election, but was it not notorious to every one, that men without holding any communion with the people, without either property or talents, merely by throwing themselves on the patronage of a great man, got seats in Parliament, not for the purpose of consulting the good of the commonwealth, and defending the rights of the people, but for the purpose of promoting their own interests, by betraying the trust reposed in them? As a remedy for these evils he proposed to alter the system from whence they flowed. Had he implicitly followed the dictates of his own private judgment, he should have adopted the mode of moving for a committee to enquire into the nature and extent of the evil, and to have found out a remedy suitable and proportionate to it. Though that appeared to him to be the better mode of proceeding,
when he proposed it before at different times, there was always one objection offered to it, which, on the present occasion, he was desirous of obviating. It was objected, "would you loosen the confidence of the people in the present house of commons, by acknowledging the defects of its constitution, without proposing a remedy by shewing how it might be constituted better?" To obviate this objection, he should state the outline of the plan which he conceived might remedy the evil of which he complained. His object then was to obtain for the people a full, fair, and free representation in the house of commons. He wished to alter no part of the constitution. It was his desire, that it should remain as it had been established, composed of King, Lords, and Commons. He did not wish to alter any thing which could remain in its present state, consistently with the attainment of his object, which, as he before stated, was nothing more than a full, free, and fair representation of the people. He should propose, therefore, that the same number of members should serve in Parliament as at present. He should propose that the county representation should remain nearly on the same footing. There were a few alterations, however, which he thought should take place. Instead of ninety-two county members, which there are at present, he thought that in future, in order to put an end to the inequalities that now exist, there should be one hundred and thirteen. For instance, instead of two for the county of York, as there are at present, he thought there should be two for each riding; and so in other counties where the present representation is not proportionate to the extent of soil and population. The next alteration, which he submitted to the house, referred to the mode of return. In order to put an end to compromises, &c. he should propose, that each county or riding. should
should be divided into grand divisions, each of which should return one representative. The only other alteration, which he had to propose in the county representation, related to the qualification of electors. The right of election, instead of being confined to freeholders, as it now is, he thought should be extended to copyholders and leaseholders, who are found to pay a certain annual rent a certain number of years. These are all the alterations which he had to propose in the county representation. The reform which he had to propose in the other branch of representation, was of a much more extensive nature. He should propose, that the remaining four hundred members should be returned by one description of persons, which were householders. He did not conceive that it would be difficult in the present, as it had been found easy in other instances, to ascertain the various proportions of population in the different counties. He did not propose, however, that these propositions should be accurately observed, but that they should be regulated by local circumstances; for instance, that great towns, such as the metropolis, should require a greater number of electors to return a representative, than in places where the population was more scattered, otherwise the populous towns would obtain a too great local ascendency. It was a part of his plan, that the country should be divided into different divisions, and that, if possible, one person should not be permitted to vote for more than one member of Parliament, this scheme necessarily involved a great number of subordinary details, into which it was impossible for him to enter. In order to prevent expence, the poll ought to be taken through the whole kingdom at one time. This was the general outline of the plan which he had to propose. To state, that it could obtain any thing like
exactness at once, or that it was not liable to great diffi culties in the execution, would be presumptuous and foolish But he flattered himself it was not liable
in the extreme.
to any insuperable or fundamental objections. Upon this. plan the land-owner would find his property suitably represented. A merchant would find support in the householders, and men of respectability and talents in the different professions would find a fair door open for getting into Parliament. The only persons, whom he could wish to exclude from that house, were men who were neither possesed of landed property, nor engaged in commercial enterprize, nor professors of any particular science; but men, who, without property, without industry, and without talents, obtained seats in the house of commons, by the influence of great men, for the purpose, as he had said before, not of consulting for the good of the people, but of promoting their own interests. If such as he had described were the situation of the electors, what would be the situation of the elected? They would hold their seats, not on the basis of universal suffrage, but of universal representation. The qualification would be so fixed, that no man, however mean, might not hope by honest industry and fair exertions to obtain a seat in the house of commons. And he begged to say, that a man, arrived at the respectable situation of being father, and consequently master of a family, having given hostages as it were to society as an assurance of his interest in its welfare, was not unworthy of a share in the legislation of his country. In order to carry this plan into effect, he should move for leave to bring in a bill, which he should not propose to pass this session, but which should be brought in, lie over for discussion during the summer, and be decided upon in the course of the next session. There was still another topic upon which he had not touched;