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or a tradesman his employment, for what appears to him to be a trifle. We must therefore suppose, that a man, whose price is seven guineas, will not sell his vote for one, nor will a man, whose price is seven hundred, sell his volte for one hundred. Now suppose the Treasury could secure a majority in this borough for seven guineas a man; this they may spare to give for a seven year's Parliament, but cannot spare to give so much every year: therefore, in annual Parliaments, this borough will return to, and be governed in its election by what we call the natural interest, whereas in septennial Parliaments it will always be governed by corruption.
“ I know it may be said, Sir, that a man who sells his vote for seven guineas to a septennial Parliament candidate, will sell it for one to an annual Parliament candidate; because he knows he may sell it for the same price yearly; and an annuity of one guinea yearly is better than seven guineas every seven years : but this I am convinced will by experience be found to be false. It is the largeness of the sum that dazzles both the avaricious and luxurious, who seldom think of futurity; if they did, they would never sell their vote at any price ; because they know that they who purchase must sell: and that by selling their votes they render not only their liberties, but their properties precarious.-Besides, no man can be sure of having an opportunity to sell his vote the next ensuing year; and much less can he be sure of selling it yearly for seven years to come: he may die before the next election : the Administration may be changed ; and a new one set up that does not stand in need of corruption : a spirit may arise in his borough that may render it impossible for any man to hope for success by corruption : and without hope of success no man will be at the ex
pence of corrupting : many other accidents may happen for disappointing him of ever having another opportunity to sell his vote at an election : and if so, for the sake of one guinea, or some such paltry sum, he stands branded as long as he lives with the character of an infamous venal betrayer of his country. I therefore think we may with great certainty conclude, that though a man may be tempted to sell his vote for seven guineas to a septennial Parliament candidate, he will disdain to sell his vote for one guinea to an annual parliament candidate, and consequently that it is much easier for a minister to get the command of a majority of our elections, when they recur but once in seven years, than it would be, if they were made to recur annually.
Now, Sir, with regard to Parliaments, by the same way of arguing, we must be convinced, that it is easier for a minister to gain a corrupt majority in a septennial, than in an annual Parliament. Here again it must be allowed, that different men have different prices; and that a man who sells his vote in Parliament for 7000 l. or even for 3500 l. would disdain to sell his vote for 1000 1. Suppose then a minister should not trouble his head with elections, but trust as a late minister wantonly said, to the buying of the members after they were brought up to market; and that by this means a majority had been chosen upon the country Interest: in these circumstances the minister must presently apply himself towards buying off such a number of that majority, as may be necessary to throw the majority upon his side of the question : and is it not evident, that in this attempt he may more probably succeed in a septennial, than in an annual Parliament? In the former if he offers a pension of 1000 l. or 500 1. a year as long as the gentleman continues a member, T
it is immediately considered as a sum of 7000 l. or 3500 l. to be paid in seven years : but in the latter it can be considered only as a single 1000 l. or 500l., because the gentleman who accepted it, and upon that account deserted the interest on which he was chosen, would certainly be thrown out upon the next general election. The minister's success would therefore be evidently more precarious in the latter than in the former case ; and the precariousness of his success would add to the difficulty of his attempt ; because it would make gentlemen more shy than they otherwise would be to accept
of any offers he could make.
“ Thus I think, Sir, it is evident, that ministerial corruption may be more prevalent in a septennial Parliament than it could be, were our parliaments annually chosen; and the mischief is, besides many others, that corruption within doors spreads corruption without.-When a gentleman finds he can get 500l. or 1000l. a year for his vote in Parliament, he thinks no more of improving or preserving his natural Interest in his borough: he trusts to corruption alone for his next election; and the pension, or salary he has from the public, enables him to outbid any gentleman who sets up upon the country interest, and has nothing but his own private fortune for supporting his expence. To this I shall add, Sir, that corruption within doors contributes not a little towards the success of ministerial corruption without. When a gentleman of family and fortune gets into Parliament, let him vote there in never so abandoned a manner, he will still preserve some natural interest in that part of the country where his family has, perhaps for ages, lived in great esteem ; this natural interest is of course brought in aid of miniaterial corruption, at all the elections in that country :
and against these two joined together it requires a very extraordinary and unusual spirit of liberty to carry any election
“ For this reason, Sir, if our septennial Parliaments be any longer continued, I shall not wonder to see the minister's letters of recommendation, with respect to the choice of any candidate as implicitly obeyed in all our counties, cities, boroughs, as the King's Conge d'Elire is now in the chapters of our episcopal Cathedrals; and if this should ever come to be our case, I shall look with indignation upon every man who pretends to be a free Briton. The very pretence would be an insult upon the understanding of him it was addressed to. We should be all slaves : God knows to whom ; but I hope it will never be to any minister from Hanover. I say, I hope it will never be to any minister from Hanover : though it is hard to tell what a corrupt parliament may not do ; what a corrupt nation may not submit to. Happen what will, I am resolved, while I live, to endeavour to prevent such a dismal catastrophe : and therefore I shall conclude with moving, for leave to bring a bill to enforce the calling of a new parliament every year, after the expiration of this present Parliament.”
The motion was thus seconded by HUMPHREY SYDENHAM, Esq.
“ The danger our constitution is in from corruption has by late experience been made so evident, that if there be a gentleman amongst us, who is void of any apprehensions of that kind, I shall very freely pronounce him void of all concern for the liberties of his country. I must therefore take it for granted that every gentleman in this House is of opinion, that something ought to be done
for preventing, or, at least lessening the effect of ministerial corruption, both at elections and in Parliament : and my honourable friend, who made you this motion, has so clearly shewn, that annual Parliaments will be the most effectual for this purpose, that I think I need not add any thing to what he has said on that head. Indeed the proposition is so self evident, that it stanas in no need of any illustration ; and therefore I shall confine what I have to say to the character, and morals of the people. Sir, the better sort of People in this country have always, till of late years, been remarkable for their bravery, generosity, and hospitality, and those of inferior rank for their honesty, frugality, and industry. These are the virtues which raised this nation to that height of glory, riches, and power, it had once arrived at: but these virtues are every one of them in danger of being utterly extinguished by ministerial corruption at elections, and in Parliament. For proving this, I have no occasion to appeal to any thing but experience. Under the late administration the decay of every one of these virtues, and the causes of that decay became so visible to every thinking man in the king, dom, that the whole nation, except the very tools of the minister, joined in putting an end to his power; and thank God! with the help of a very extraordinary conjuncture at Court, we at last, in some degree, succeeded in our endeavours. For this reason I say, I need not appeal to any thing but experience, for shewing what an effect public corruption has upon private as well as public virtue: but as it may be proved by' reason, as well as experience, and as I think it necessary to take advantage of
every argument that can be thought of for establishing the truth of this proposition, I shall beg leave to consider separately every one of the virtues I have mentioned, in order to shew from the reason of things, how necessarily