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slaves who groan under the scourges of despotic power, That the house of commons once fulfilled this office, is certain. That all our liberties were secured and estaa blished by its constant exercise is acknowledged. We recollect with pride and triumph the glorious exertions of our fathers within these walls, when tyranny was, century after century, combated and defeated, and the liberties of England and the world established, -It may be asked, wherefore it is, that when the house of commons, in its present frame, has so balanced the crown and so reared up the British government from infancy to maturity, we are called upon to restore a house of commons to its original purity and vigor, elected as it is like all former ones in the happiest æras ? It may be asked, why we stir upon such a subject, even in this crisis of dismay, when every moment teems with the most portentous events--when every succeeding day makes the evils of the former one appear like security and blessingwhen perhaps we have not much longer to remain in a state of regular government ? [a cry of " order, order" from the Treasury Bench] “ Sir, I am not to be deterred by clamor from expressing the sentiments which press upon my understanding and my heart. Whatever the house may think of this language, I shall not be condemned for it by the people who gave it its authority. This is a moment when to conceal, or even to tamper with the truth, from the affectation of delicacy or prudence, is to betray the country. Why is it then, that in such a moment, the disgrace, and danger of which no man can give adequate utterance to, do I stand require you to alter the frame of the house of commons, thus admitted to have fulfilled for ages the purposes of its institution ? The answer is plain and easy. The circumstances of our situation are no longer the same.
Whilst the people of England were engaged in a struggle for their liberties against a powerful, and arbitrary executive, acting by prerogative, and not by influence, and corruption, it was enough that there was a house of commons. Whoever sent the members, they had, when assembled, a common interest with the whole body of the nation. Common danger united them against the crown, and they had nothing to buy off individuals from the performance of their duty to the whole. When the crown could not buy this House, it was driven to curb its privileges. This made the house as one man, and the representatives of ten, or of ten thousand had the same spirit and the same interests on all political objects.
“ If a principle so obvious required proof or illustration, we have only to look back to the struggles of the house of commons during the reigns of the STUARTS. We there behold it in its genuine office and character, reflecting the image of the constituent body, partaking all its feelings, and contending with wisdom and firmness against every incroachment of the crown. But human establish. ments are not made for immortality: they must change with the insensible changes in human affairs, or must perish by violence. The revolution of 1688 was glorious æra in the constitution of England: it established the true principle of all political constitutions in maintaining the immutable right of the people to correct its government; but, unfortunately, too little care was taken to guard against abuses in the government so corrected. The formidable prerogatives of the sovereign were, indeed, reduced within the bounds of a just executive authority, and limited by the strict letter of the laws. But the terror and jealousy of the people were quieted by this victory, and the mild and seducing dominion of influence
people, so are the Lords, and so are the Judges ; for they all are trustees for the people, as well as the commons; because no power is given for the sole sake of the holder; and although government is certainly an institution of divine authority, yet its forms, and the persons who administer it, all originate from the people.
“ A popular origin cannot, therefore, be the characteristical distinction of a popular representative, which belongs equally to all parts of government, and in all forms. THE VIRTUE, SPIRIT, AND ESSENCE OF A HOUSE OF COMMONS CONSIST IN ITS BEING THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF THE FEELINGS OF THE NATION. It was not instituted to be a control upon the people, as of late it has been taught, by a doctrine of the most pernicious tendency, but as a control for the people. Other institutions have been formed for the purpose of checking popular excesses ; and they are I apprehend fully adequate to their object. If not, they ought to be made so. But the house of commons, as it was never intended for the support of peace and subordination, is miserably appointed for that service ; having no stronger weapon than its mace, and no better officer than its serjeant at arms, which it can command of its own proper authority. A vigilant and jealous eye over executory and judicial magistracy; an anxious care of public money; an openness, approaching towards facility, to public complaint ;—these seem to be the true characteristics of an house of commons. BUT AN ADDRESSING HOUSE OF COMMONS, AND A PETITIONING NATION; A HOUSE OF COMMONS FULL OF CONFIDENCE, WHEN THE NATION IS PLUNGED IN DESPAIR; IN THE UTMOST HARMONY WITH MINISTERS, WHOM THE PEOPLE REGARD WITH THE UTMOST HORRENCE ; WHO VOTE THANKS, WHEN THE PUBLIC OPINION CALLS UPON THEM FOR IMPEACHMENTS; WHO
ARE EAGER TO GRANT, WHEN THE GENERAL VOICE DEMANDS RECKONING AND ACCOUNT ; WHO IN ALL DISPUTES BETWEEN THE PEOPLE AND ADMINISTRATION, PRESUME AGAINST THE PEOPLE ; WHO PUNISH THEIR DISORDERS, BUT REFUSE EVEN TO INQUIRE INTO THE PROVOCATIONS TO THEM.-This is
AN UNNATURAL, A MONSTROUS STATE OF THINGS IN THIS CONSTITUTION.”
« Sir, this is, in plain English, the degraded disgraceful state of this assembly at this moment. There was a time, and it has undergone no improvement since, when the right honorable gentleman admitted this to be truth. He admitted during the American war, what he denies to maintain his own war. Does any man now doubt that the constitution of this house was the cause of war with America, of the dismemberment of the empire which followed it, and of all the portentous consequences which have since crowded in its train ? It has been often said, that the American war was at first the war of the people. No doubt it was,
as every act of government will be popular which does not proceed merely from the crown, but begins with the general sanction of the people's representatives. The crown secures all the men of influence, property, and consideration in Parliament ; and they carry the people with them, until they are at last brought to their senses by calamity and impending ruin. My proposition therefore is, that, with the management of our mighty revenue in the hands of the crown, and taking into consideration the manner in which the members of the house are elected, the house of commons has totally lost its original office and character as a balance against the Crown.
« Sir, it is often, perhaps always, by the concurrence of accidents rather than by the operation of permanent causes, that the great events of the world are brought to pass. The seeds of reformation, which had been scattered in the ground by these great men, came up at first but slowly; but they were carefully gathered, and re-sown by the right honorable gentleman himself. In the fulness of time, they grew up into strength; and but for his own fatal efforts, would have then ripened into a glorious harvest. But that which a man soweth, that shall he reap.—It was in vain that the right honorable gentleman, at the head of a corrupt government, endeavoured to repress the doctrines which he had propagated himself. He sought in vain to extinguish the popularity of a reform in Parliament, without which he had himself solemly and deliberately maintained within these walls, that the liberties of this nation were undone. Unfortunately, however, he made the attempt, aided by the very corruptions, to the baneful effects of which he had himself opposed the reform, which he now persecuted. It was from this unprincipled opposition, and not from any republican contagion, that the spirit of the reformers acquired new energy, and force. This was the source of all that bitterness, with which they accused and reviled the late house of commons. For this cause they despised, and for this cause they therefore libelled the late Parliament, because they saw it struggling to maintain its own corruptions under the auspices of the very minister who had solemnly declared them to be wholly incompatible with the very being of an upright administration. I do not overlook the danger of such a state of things. I feel as much as any man the inevitable ruin of every government, which is suffered to fall into contempt and disregard with the people. But knowing that no such loss of authority ever happened from the beginning of the world, but when governments fell off