« ПредишнаНапред »
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 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 further 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 inconveniencies 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 enemics 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 pubiic 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 Paliaments, 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.
“ As to faction and sedition, Sir, I will grant that in monarchical and aristocratical governments it generally arises from violence, and oppression : but in democratical governments it always arises from the people's having too great a share in the government: for in all countries, and in all governments, there will always be many factious and unquiet spirits, who can never be at rest either in power, or out of power : when in power they are never easy, unless every man submits entirely to their direction: and when out of power, they are always working and intriguing against those that are in, without any regard to justice, or the interests of their country: in popular governments such men have too much game; they have too many opportunities for working upon, and corrupting the minds of the people': in order to give them a bad impression of, and to raise discontents against those that have the management of the public affairs for the time : and these discontents often break out into seditions, and insurrections.
“This, Sir, in my opinion, would be our misfortune, if our Parliaments were either annual or triennial : by such frequent elections there would be so much power thrown into the hands of the people: as would destroy that equal mixture which is the beauty of our constitution : in short our government would really become a democratical government, and might thence very probably diverge into a tyrannical. Therefore, in order to preserve our constitution, in order to prevent our falling into tyranny, and arbitrary power, we ought to preserve that law, which, I really think, has brought our constitution to a more equal mixture, and consequently to greater perfection than it was ever in, before that law took place.
“ As to bribery, and corruption, Sir, if it was possible to influence by such base means the majority of the electors of Great Britain, to choose such men as would probably give up their liberties: if it were possible to influence by such means a majority of the members of this House to consent to the establishment of arbitrary power, I would readily allow that the calculations made by the gentlemen on the other side were just: and their inference true : but I am persuaded that neither of these is possible. As the members of this House generally are, and must always be gentlemen of fortune and figure in their country, is it possible to suppose that any of them could by a pension, or a post, be influenced to consent to the overthrow of our constitution, by which the enjoyment not only of what he got, but of what he before had, would be rendered altogether precarious ? I will allow, Sir, that, with respect to bribery, the price must be higher, or lower