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or of those long past, or that yet may be elected, but of any possible house of commons in its present frame and constitution. Secondly, Whether supposing a reform in Parliament to be necessary, the specific proposition submitted to the house appears to be salutary, practicable, and adapted to cure the evils complained of, so as to entitle it to the ultimate cosideration of the house in the form of a bill to be brought before us? Thirdly, Whether, supposing a reform of Parliament to be expedient, and the proposition made by the motion to be worthy of consideration, the present moment is seasonable for entertaining it? This last point is, indeed, a matter of the highest importance. The present is no common period, and pregnant with no common events. We are in a crisis of unexampled difficulty and danger; and we stand answerable to God and man for that singleness of conduct which can alone avert our ruin. I observe that this state of things is not only admitted, but loudly returned to me as a censure on the rashness of the proposition before the house: but I undertake to demonstrate, that, if you would avert the calamities which threaten to overwhelm you, you have not a moment to lose in adopting the motion which has been made. Indeed, I am convinced this is the last moment that may be ever give you for deliberation. If you do not come to a vote this very night, which sanctions at least the principle of a reform in Parliament, you will find that you have neglected an opportunity never to be recalled. You will find it come back to you in a shape which may disrobe you of the power of deliberation, when concession will have lost its charm, and authority its dignity, and when the voice of wisdom and deliberation can be no longer heard. This, however, is out of its place, I shall arrive at it in its order. For the present I will pursue my course.

“ I will offer what I have to say on each of these points in a very few words. In examin

In examining whether the

present constitution of the House fulfils its office in the government, it is necessary to reflect, what the office and character of the house of commons really is, in genuine theory, and in original practice. Its office is to balance the other branches of the government; to watch with jealousy over the executive power, which for the ends of good and active government ought to be strong and powerful ; and to protect the popular privileges against the encroachments of aristocratic influence and authority:

Unless the house of commons be sufficient to maintain this character in its full vigor and purity, the popular branch of the constitution is cut off to every practical effect. The genuine principle of the government is lost and the people have no more political existence than 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 established 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 blessing---when perhaps we have not much longer to remain in a state of regular government? [a cry of “ order, orderfrom 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 up to 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 si

. tuation 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 establishments 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 a 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 stole upon us insensibly in its stead, bestowing a greater and more fatal authority than ever existed in the most arbitrary periods of the government. The gradual creation of a mighty revenue, rising up amidst the glory and prosperity of the empire, undermined in a few years that nicely-poized constitution which unjust power, though exerted for centuries, had only served to strengthen and confirm. The crown, instead of being balanced and .curbed in this house, has, during the greatest part of this century, erected its standard within these walls, and thrown the privileges of the people into the scale of the prerogative to govern the nation at pleasure without any control at all. So far indeed is the house of commons from being a control upon the crown, that it is the great engine of its power. The crown, by appearing to act' with the consent of the people through their representatives, though in fact by its own influence, is enabled to carry on a system which the most absolute prince in our history could not have fastened upon England for centuries past. Taking this proposition in the abstract, who shall now be found to question it? The most celebrated commentators upon our laws have been compelled to lament it publicly in their writings on the constitution ; and Mr. Justice BLACKSTONE, with all his leanings to the crown, has fairly confessed that such a system could not have been intended by our patriot ancestors, who had struggled to curb the prerogative, but by an unaccountable want of

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foresight, bad established a principle most dangerous in its stead. So said the illustrious Lord CHATHAM, the virtuous Sir G. SAVILLE, and the learned Lord CAMDEN. So lastly, said the right honorable gentleman himself, and he would not have said so in vain, had he honorably persevered in that glorious course which was the nurse of his fame, and the pledge and promise of his youth to his country, and to the universe. I do not bring this to the memory of the house for the purpose of personal insult or mortification, but to add the authority of his understanding to the other great ones I have cited. It may be said, however, that these great authorities were all reformers; and we know that the wisest men are sometimes seduced by their prejudices and opinions to push their observations beyond the mark. Let me look, therefore, for a witness without exception--a witness to whose competency the present ministers can take no exception, and who, as he abhorred reform, must be supposed to have disclosed unwillingly the disgraces of Parliament. Hear his opinion upon the office of Parliament, and the shameful departure from it in practice ; and then let every man look into the glass of his own conscience, and let the house, if it can bear the picture, say, whether it be like us at this hour.

" Whatever alterations time and the necessary accommodation of business may have introduced, this character can never be sustained, unless the house of commons shall be made to bear some stamp of the actual disposition of the people at large. It would (among public misfortunes) be an evil more natural and tolerable, that the house of commons should be infected with every epidemical frenzy of the people, as this would indicate some consanguinity, some sympathy of nature with their constituents, than that they should in all cases, be wholly urtouched by the opinions and feelings of the people out of doors. By this want of sympathy they would cease

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