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common policy or prudence, in the disposition of what he had subjugated and appropriated, have leant so heavily upon all the springs of national industry, or so dried up the resources of posterity for ages to come, as the last Parliament has done under the title of guardians of our prosperity. I maintain, that ZINGISKHAN, would in wisdom have refrained from raising two hundred millions sterling upon this conquered island in the space of four years; and I maintain that he could not be so besotted as to have stirred up the conquered to revolt against his authority by arbitrary laws, by public bankruptcy, and a total proscription of that character of freedom which had for ages belonged to a people ; and I maintain, lastly, that I believe the country would have died to a man rather than have submitted to what they are now sinking under, amidst that stupefaction and prostration of strength and energy which the baseness of corruption never failed to produce in the declines of nations ; from the beginning of the world. But the government which rests on no other basis, is not made for stability or duration. It interests no passion or affection and is connected by no permanent principle with the feelings or interests of mankind. It stands for a season upon the mass of national subjection, shaking from time to time by irritated and indignant feelings, which terror may suppress, but never can subdue or extinguish, till the moment of explosion arrives which suddenly overwhelms it in ruin: for know, that, in some new form or other, the original rights of mankind will surely be re-assumed, and the monuments of tyranny and injustice be overthrown.” [Here there was a loud cry from the Treasury-bench of order”]“ Gentlemen seem to be dissatisfied at the language I have employed, and at the catastrophe I have pointed out; but they should recollect, that it is the progress of their own system I have described. I deprecate the events to which it leads, and labor, therefore, to warn them while
yet it is time to shun the precipice to which they are so madly rushing. I can take no interest in a new order of things. All my enjoyments, and all my hopes, prospects, and ambitions, rest for their existence upon the present government. All the fruits of a life of almost unexampled labor, are involved in the fate of the country under its present system. The security of all I possess is connected with the stability of the constitution; and this is the best pledge of my sincerity. The disgraceful and living examples of many with whom I once ought not to have compared myself, have nearly destroyed all other
“ I come now to the second question, viz. Whether the plan proposed by my honorable friend is likely to produce the practical benefits we desire, and therefore entitled to the farther examination of the house. My honorable friend, with that manliness and candour which characterize him, explained distinctly the principle upon which his plan was to proceed. He did not lay himself out to catch a prevailing cry by the flattery of any favor. ite theory, but rested his measure wholly and absolutely on the practical advantages it was fitted to produce. I object, as he does, to universal suffrage, as tending to defeat the very object it wishes to promote. I object to it likewise, when claimed as a right. Mankind have a right to be well governed; but for that very reason it follows, that they can have no right to insist upon any particular mode which, in practice, may be found to be inconsistent with the very end proposed. The system of universal suffrage would throw into the hands of some individuals a dangerous preponderance. One man employing a great number of persons might, by influencing their conduct, unite in himself perhaps a thousand votes, and thus des troy the freedom of election. Yet, though I disapprove so unqualified a system as that of universal suffrage, I am desirous that a larger body of individuals should be ad.
mitted to a political interest in the state. The house of commons should emanate from the people. The plan of my honorable friend attains this object with the most perfect safety. The representation of land will continue; only it will be more widely diffused, and extend itself more equally. No good reason can now be assigned for excluding copyholders from the right of voting; their estates only differ from freeholds in the mode of convey. ance, and the privileges of Lords are no longer what they were in fædal times : they are not privileges of property, but merely connected with authenticity of title. Leaseholders of a certain value, and for a certain term, which amounts to property, are in the same situation. Taking in, too, the inhabitants, house-holders, paying scot and lot, through all their ranks and gradations, completes the system of rational representation. How is a people better described ? Are the balances of the state to be shaken by the representatives of all the lands, and the inhabitants of all the houses in England, connected as they are with a thousand intersecting interests, with the public credit and stability of the government? Will you say, that the masters of families, house-holders, every one of whom has some relation, some tie, some members of a little circle round his fire-side, to whom he is attached, have no stake in the public fate, and are unworthy to enjoy political rights ? Such a body of constituents would remove to a considerable extent the disgraceful practices which elections now exhibit. Suffrages, it is notorious, are sometimes bartered for money, for a place, or a ribband, or for the most trifling and ridiculous considerations. To remedy these abusesto remove all riot and debauchery -make the electors vote each in their particular parishes - they will then come with calmness to exercise the most important of political privileges, and consider maturely upon whom they are to devolve the guardianship of their civil rights. What is the vice and danger of the times in the opinion of those who rule at the present moment? Is it not a contempt of the authorities of government, and a disaffection to the Parliament of the kingdom? What better cure can be suggested by the wisdom of man for that evil, than to make the Parliament emanate from the people, to make it the creature of their own creation? If they are prone to arraign the conduct, and to despise the authority of those in whose election they have no share, they will view in a more favorable light the objects of their own choice. The constituent will then entertain confidence in the representative, and the representative will feel some more regard for the opinions and wishes of those by whom he has been sent. Who then is to raise up sedition against such a government? As we lately had a national conspiracy without conspirators, now we must, in such an event, have a rebellion without rebels. Such a representation would secure universal and permanent tranquillity. It has all the advantages of universal suffrage, without any of its defects. It is, indeed, properly speaking, an universal right of suffrage, because all those who are not included in it, may, without a figure, be said to be virtually and in substance represented. All the people in their various degrees, not included personally in such a representation, are members of some house or another, they are therefore represented in the persons of their fathers, or their nearest kindred, and bound in every feeling, as well as every interest which grows out of social existence, to support an assembly proceeding from such an universal national will: whereas the personal inclusion of every individual might, as I have already adverted to, give an undue influence inconsistent with the true spirit of independent elections. There is this last advantage in the mode proposed; it is a practical system standing upon no other foundation but its aptitude to promote the practice and enjoyment of British government, whereas universal suffrage is argued to be an unalienable
right. To be well governed, is a right unquestionably unaliable ; but if that could be said of universal suffrage, then, as I have already observed, the right of mankind is narrowed to one system and form of government; and however pernicious it may be found in practice, it cannot possibly be changed, since no legitimate government can be built upon the usurpation or the restraint of human rights which are universal.
“ In this way, honest but visionary men, confounding the unalienable right of every man to be well governed with a right unalienable to interfere in the administration of actual government, impose an actual tyranny upon the world in their zeal for universal freedom.
“The system proposed by my excellent, and enlightened friend, therefore, avoids this dangerous stumbling block, and erects a practical government upon principles which have no tendency to disorganize society, nor to shake the establishments of the nation.
“ The last point of all, and certainly the most momentous, now stands in its order, viz. Is the present a fit moment for making any alteration, however beneficial in the constitution of the government ?-My opinion is, that it is singularly and critically seasonable; and that those who seize upon the time as a foundation for objection, would lay the same hold on prosperity, if it were proposed on the return of peace. To try this, let us suppose that our situation were reversed, that commerce was flourishing; that our public credit was beginning to re-establish itself; that the winter of our affairs had passed away, and the summer was beginning to re-appear--would it not then be said to the proposers of Reform, What but mischief can be your object? No sooner are the springs of industry again put in motion-no sooner are the sources of commerce unlocked, and pouring forth the riches of the country in every direction--no sooner has returning confidence in a re-animated government given a new impulse to every