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some private and personal views in the king's ministers; as if the whole aim were to establish_themselves, for so much longer time, in their power. But I observe, that the same persons who make this objection generally contradict it, by affirming that the ministers have nothing to fear, and that this present design is wholly unnecessary, because a court may be sure of another House of Commons to their mind. They must think the ministry very weak not to see this, which is so plain, that the influence of a court had hardly ever failed in this point, though at the same time the gentlemen who make this objection are apt to insinuate the necessity of some measures for this purpose, which cannot be very agreeable to an honest and incorrupt ministry. However, in the opinion of such as allow this, it cannot be having a view to themselves, but in a general view to the nation at home, and to the interest and glory of it abroad, which engageth the ministers in this design. They who know the nature of such affairs judge the contrary, that the ministers, as to their own private interest, might more probably find their account in new parliaments, than in one continued. Experience shows, that the most courtly parliaments have turned uncourtly in their long sitting: and therefore this design cannot be necessary for any private self-interested views of their own, because it is allowed, that such ends (if they have any) might be served as well, at least, in the former method, as in this. They who find a bias in their minds against everything proposed by a court, let it be what it will, should consider, in this case, whether it be not probable that the present views and designs are of a public nature, rather than of a private; and should act accordingly, without prejudice, or affection, as they think it requisite, or not, for the establishment of the king and the nation; and for the more effectual destroying all the hopes of the enemies of both.
The most powerful objection of all is, that the alteration now designed may make it much more likely, that under a bad prince, some time or other, arbitrary power may be brought in. For the present, I am sure, we have nothing to fear. We have now a king upon the throne, whose soul is fashioned to right and justice; and whose great inquiry upon all occasions is, what our constitution and what our laws require of him. We have a prince in view, to succeed him, whose native honour and integrity guard him against all suspicion.
But I grant, this may not always be our happiness, either in possession or in prospect: and therefore if this allegation could be proved, I should be moved another way than I am at present: there will be more time, I acknowledge, in any one particular parliament, for attempts to be made that way. But, as I think, not at all more likely to succeed. On the contrary, there is more likelihood, that gentlemen should by degrees become even ready to part with a constitution, for which there must be such contention by bribery, and all the arts of iniquity, every three years, than if it we were otherwise. And then again, supposing a parliament chosen for three years only; a prince resolutely bent upon doing it in a parliamentary way, prepared with treasures and favours, might make such attempts, before that term be expired, that none could resist, who would not as certainly go on further in their integrity. One may venture to affirm that a parliament which keeps its integrity for three years, will discourage the making any such attempts for the remaining four. And, to give an instance, if I remember right, the parliament which gave up the liberties of Sweden gave that fatal stroke within the term of three years. Whenever a court can be bad enough for such a design, they will first take care at the time of election to set up persons capable of the same bad design. And then there is no difference between three or seven years. Only, here remember, what I have before observed to you, that the quick returns of triennial elections tend much more to that corruption, bribery, and dissoluteness of manners, as well as party-revenge, which pave the way to the loss of liberty, than the longer term, now proposed, can do. One might appeal to any who know the world, whether it be not more probable (as I have urged already) that the elected gentlemen themselves, impoverished by so frequent returns of their great charges, will be inclined to listen to the offer made them, with so pernicious a view, than if the returns were not so frequent; and besides this, whether the influence that way from the powerful motive of party-revenge, will not have vastly more weight, when it is roused, and irritated, and set on fire by so quick returns of contention, than if it were otherwise. And what is of great moment, in my opinion, since it is plain that every instance of wickedness, and division, tending to destruction, is so heightened and inflamed by the quick returns of elections;
there must be much greater encouragement to a foreign enemy, to interpose with his money, to purchase our ruin in a triennial choice, than in a septennial. Especially now before we are well settled upon that bottom which is the only foundation of our happiness. It is well known how far the neighbouring powers intermeddle in the elections of Poland and Germany, and with how much success they send their agents and factors to them; and what an abuse of liberty this corruption has introduced in those countries, all the world can testify; nor can we think the election of a British parliament so very indifferent a thing to some neighbouring powers, especially at certain junctures, that they should think one or two hundred thousand pounds misapplied, in purchasing votes to their mind. And I can say, that this is no whimsical supposition, because I have myself seen an intercepted letter, written from hence into France, just before the last election, by a friend to the Pretender, who had taken the oaths to King George, plainly hinting both that such a thing was then expected from the king of France, and that he did not doubt the success of it. I think this alone is enough to alarm any true lover of his country, in the present situation of our affairs, and of those of all Europe.
There is one more objection, I hear, is often urged, that we should have severely blamed such a design in the late administration; nay, that great horror was expressed, at the very supposition of the thing at that time: I grant this, and that the horror was just and reasonable. But upon what was this founded? Not upon the unlawfulness of the thing itself; not upon the impossibility of its ever being fit to be done; but upon a too well-grounded assurance, that they who were then in power must have meant it, whenever they did it, for the same end to which their other acts tended, and that was the utter ruin of the grand alliance, and of all the hopes of our best friends abroad, and the inspiring full vigour into the cause of France and the Pretender. This was the ground of all just dread upon that head. Had it been so, that they had designed it manifestly for the firmer security of the Protestant succession here, and the greater support of the grand alliance abroad, no true Briton could have had ground of complaint, but must have acknowledged, if it tended and was necessary to so good ends, that it was not
only lawful, but highly praise-worthy. An instance parallel to it may quite take off the edge of this objection. What honest mind would not have been filled with uneasiness and terror, supposing they had then attempted to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, by which they might have confined all men of great capacity and influence, whom they knew to be averse to their proceedings, in favour of France? But would this have been any argument, why the friends of King George should not have secured him and the nation by such a suspension, when made necessary by the treasonable practices of his avowed enemies? Or because we blame a thing lawful in itself, when we see it designed for our ruin, therefore, must we be averse to a lawful thing, designed and tending to our preservation? This is the whole strength of that objection, which yet, I believe, weighs with many, for want of considering it.
As for the late ministers, I verily believe they designed no such thing. And my reason for believing so is, that they did not at all want it; nay, that it would have done them more hurt than good. Their designs were such as were to be managed solely by artifice. The great engines they made use of for keeping up a spirit against all truth and right, were those very mobs, riots, and tumults, which alone could keep a multitude in such a ferment, as to make them admire, and press for their own ruin. They thought it their interest to govern by the passions of the crowd, and were very peculiarly dexterous in the management of them. They were possessed of the full cry and noise of the nation, and likely in all probability so to continue: this was a much surer hold to them, and to their designs, than the continuance of one and the same parliament: and therefore, they never attempted it. But certainly, as that same spirit which was then raised for the service of the Pretender, made it unnecessary for them; so, it being still alive, and full of evil influences upon our happiness, this makes it highly prudent in others, to do that in order to suppress and extirpate it, which they, in their wisdom, would not do, for fear of quieting what they expected benefit from. Their security consisted in keeping up that vile spirit to the height. It is the security of the king and his government to have a stop put to it, and to remove every opportunity that may give fuel and encouragement to it, as
far as is consistent with the constitution and liberties of the nation.
All these considerations put together have, I confess, wholly taken off my first surprise; and the same considerations make me hope, that all true friends to the king, and to the public happiness, (which now depends entirely upon the firm establishment of the present Royal Family,) will not let their general suspicion, or their particular bias, have such power over them, as to move them to join with their own enemies, in a point, in which, if they should, by any unforeseen accident, have success, I am confident, they would very heartily, as well as fruitlessly, repent of their own proceedings. When persons who have always shown themselves enemies to liberty, and professors of the principles of slavery; who have ever expressed a hatred of the revolution, and of everything built upon and have ever been the supports of the Popish and Jacobite interest in these nations: when such, I say, put on a zeal for liberty, it is a moral demonstration that it is all a mock show; and that they themselves think quite otherwise of what they oppose, than they would seem to think. If it were really their opinion, that the alteration now proposed, would either help the cause which they have espoused, or be any prejudice to a government which they hate, I am very confident, they would not enter into the opposition of it, with that warmth and heat which they now profess. But they foresee that their hopes must in proportion abate, with those heats and disturbances which alone keep them alive; and for this reason it is, that they now take into their mouths the words and topics which they have ever hitherto ridiculed and exploded in order to keep off the thing which they heartily hate, the settlement of the present government in peace and quiet at home, and in honour and glory abroad.
And this is one very good reason why all who truly wish well to that settlement, should unite in the alteration of that which is the chief, if not the only, thing left to keep up the spirits and designs of its enemies. But if, when it is in our power to put some stop to our present corruptions and distractions, and to establish the glory of our king and the happiness of our country, in a method perfectly consistent with all our rights and liberties, we are guided by the insinuations of those who hate us, and refuse to do it, we must