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ment's secrets relating to them. This has nothing to do Chap. with an enquiry into his. conduct; but there are several IV. suspicions spread abroad, relating to his conduct as a privy counsellor, which, if true, would be os the last 1742. importance to the nation to have discovered. It has been strongly asserted, that he was not only a privy counsellor, but had usurped the whole and sole direction of his Majesty's privy council. It has been asserted, that he gave the Spanish court the first hint of the unjust claim they afterwards set up against our South Sea Company, which was one of the chief causes of the war between the two nations. And it has been asserted, that this very minister has given advice to the French, what measures to take upon several occasions, in order to bring our court into their measures ; particularly, that he advistd them to send the numerous army they have this last summer sent into Westphalia. What truth there is in these assertions, I shall not pretend to answer. The sacts are of such a nature, and they must have been perpetrated with so much caution and secrecy, that it will be dissicult to bring them to light, even by a parliamentary enquiry -, but the very suspicion is ground enough for setting up such an enquiry, and for carrying it on with the utmost strictness and vigour; which leads me to consider the cause we now have for an enquiry.
« Upon this subject, Sir, I must say I am a good deal surprized to hear the representatives of the people make so light of the sentiments or suspicions of the people. That there are suspicions and complaints among the people, and among the generality of the best fort of people is, it is true, a sact we cannot easily prove against one that denies it, no more than we could do, that the generality of our people are of a sair or a brown complexion; but is I should say, that the majority of our people are whites, I could not prove what I asserted; and yet I should look upon him as a very whimsical or a very disingenuous gentleman that would deny it, and assert the majority of our people were blackamoors. Such sacts it is impossible to prove any other way but by the opinion of those who are the best judges; and surely a country gentleman who lives most part of his time among the people, and has no court favours to bestow as a temptation, for those he converses with to disguise their sentiments, is a better judge than one who seldom stirs
out of the purlieus of a court, and converses with none but such as expect places or preserment by his savour. Therefore if we judge of this sact according to the only 1742. evidence that can be had, that is, according to the opinion of those who are the best judges, we must conclude, that the suspicions and complaints of the people were never more general than they are against the late conduct of our public afsairs; and this by me shall always be deemed a sufficient reason for a parliamentary enquiry.
"Whatever my opinion of past measures may be, I shall never be so vain, or bigotted to my own opinion as, without any enquiry, to determine against the majority of my countrymen. If I found the public measures generally condemned, let my private opinion of them be never so savourable, I should be for an enquiry, in order to convince the people of their error, or at least to surnish myself with the most authentic arguments for the opinion I have embraced. The desire of bringing other people into our sentiments is so natural to mankind, that I shall always suspect the candour of those, who, in politics or religion, are against a free enquiry. Besides, Sir, when the complaints of the people are general against an administration, or against any particular minister, an enquiry is a duty we owe to our sovereign as well as the people. We meet here to communicate to our sovereign the sentiments of his people. We meet here to redress the grievances of the people. By performing our duty in these two respects, we shall always be able to establish the throne of our sovereign in the hearts of his people, and to prevent the people's being led into insurrections or rebellions by misrepresentations, or salse surmises.—> When the people complain, they must be in the right or in the wrong. If they are in the right, we are in duty bound to enquire into the conduct of the ministers, and punish those who shall appear to have been the most guilty. If the people are in the wrong, we ought to enquire into the conduct of our ministers, in order to convince the people that they have been misled. We ought not therefore, in any question about an enquiry, to be governed by our own sentiments. We must be governed by the sentiments of our constituents, if we are resolved to perform our duty, either as true representatives of the people, or as saithsul messengers to our
'sovereign. I will agree with the Hon. Gentlerpn, that Chap, if we are convinced or suspect the public pleasures to IV. be wrong, we ought to enquire into them, even though they are not much complained of by the people without 1742. doors; but I cannot agree with him in thinking, that notwithstanding the administration, or a minister's being complained of by the people in general without doors, we ought not to enquire into his conduct, unless we are ourselves convinced that his measures have been wrong. Without an enquiry we can no more determine this question, than a judge can declare a man innocent of any crime laid to his charge, without a previous trial or inquisition. Common same is a sussicient ground for an inquisition at common law; and, for the same reason, the general voice of the people of England ought always to be looked on as a sussicient ground for a parliamentary enquiry.
"But, say gentlemen, what is this minister accused of? What crime is laid to his charge? For unless some misfortune is said to have happened, or some crime to have been committed, no enquiry ought to be set on foot. Sir, the ill posture of our affairs, both abroad and at home; the melancholy situation we are in; the distress we are now reduced to, is of itself a sussicient cause for an enquiry, even supposing he were accused of no particular crime or misconduct. The nation lies a bleeding, perhaps expiring. The balance of power has received a deadly blow. Shall we acknowledge this to be the case, and shall we not enquire whether it has happened by mischance, or by the misconduct, perhaps the malice prepense, of our minister here at home. Before the treaty of Utrecht, it was the general opinion, that in a sew years of peace we should be able to pay off most of our debts. We have now been very near thirty years in profound peace, at least we have never been engaged in, any'war but what we unnecessarily brought upon ourselves, and yet our debts are near as great as they were when that treaty was concluded. Is not this a misfortune, and (hall we make no enquiry how this misfortune has happened.
a I am surprized to hear it said, that no enquiry ought to be set on foot, unless some public crime be known to have been committed. The suspicion of any crime's having been actually committed, has always been deemed •' a sussicient a sufficient reason for setting up an enquiry. Is there not a suspicion that the public money has been applied towards gaining a corrupt influence at elections? Is it 'not become a common expression to say, " The floodgates of the treasury are opened against a general election?" I shall desire no more than that every gentleman who is conscious of this having been done, either for or against him, would give his vote in savour of this motion. Will any gentleman say this is not a crime, when even private corruption has such high penalties inssicted upon it by express statute? A minister that commits this crime, and makes use of the public money for that purpose, adds thieving and breach of trust to the crime of corruption; and as the crime, when committed by him, is of much more dangerous consequence than when committed by a private man, it becomes more properly the object of a parliamentary enquiry, and ought to be more; severely punished. The Hon. Gentleman may much more reasonably tell us that Porteus was never murdered by the mob at Edinburgh, because no discovery of his murderers could ever yet be made, notwithstanding the high reward, as well as pardon offered; than to tell us, we cannot suppose our minister ever, by himself or his agents, corrupted an election, because no insormation has as yet been brought against him ; for nothing but a pardon on convicting the offender has ever yet been offered in this case; and how could any insormer expect such a pardon, much less a reward, when he knew the very man against whom he was to insorm had not onlv the distribution of all public rewards, but the packing of a jury or parliament against him? Sir, whilst such a minis'ter preserves the savour of the crown, and thereby the exercise of its power, we can never expect such an insorr matron. Even malice itself can never provoke such an information; because, like all other sorts of impotent malice, it will rebound upon the heart that conceived it. "This fhews the insignisicancy of the act mentioned by the Hon. Gentleman, with regard to that sort of corruption which is called bribery; and with regard to the other fort of corruption, which consists in giving or taking away those posts, pensions, or preserments which depend upon the arbitrary will of the crown, this act is still more insignisicant, because it is not necessary, it would even be ridiculous in a minister to tell any man,
that that he gave or resused him a post, pension or preser- Cha». ment, on account of his voting for or against any minis- IV. terial measure in parliament, or any ministerial candidate '-—»-» at an election. If he makes it his constant rule never to 1742. give a post, pension or preserment but to those who vote for his measures and his candidates, and makes a sew examples of dismissing those who vote otherwise, it will have the same effect as when he declares it openly. Will any gentleman say, that this has not been the practice of the minister whose conduct is now proposed to be enquired into? Has he not declared in the sace of this house, that he will continue to make this his practice? And will not this have the same effect as if he went separately and distinctly to every particular man, and told him in express terms: " Sir, if you vote for such a measure, or such a ," candidate, you fhall have the sirst preserment in the «• gift os the crown; if you vote otherwise, you must "not expect to keep what you have." Gentlemen may deny the sun shines' at noon-day; but if they have any eyes, and do not wilfully sliut them, or turn their backs towards him, I am sure no man will believe they are ingenuous in what they say; and therefore I think the Hon. Gentleman was in the right, who endeavoured to justify this practice. It was more candid than to deny it; but as his arguments have been already sully answered, I shall add nothing upon that subject.
"Gentlemen cry out, What! will you take from the crown the power of preserring or cashiering the ofsicers of our army? No, Sir. This is neither the design, nor will it be the effect, of our agreeing to this motion. The king has at present an absolute power of preserring or cashiering the officers of our army. It is a prerogative he may make use of, for the benesit or sasety of the public; but, like other prerogatives, it may be made a wrong use of; and the minister is answerable to parliament when it is. When an ofsicer is preserred or cashiered upon the motive of his voting for or against any court measure or candidate, it is a wrong use of this prerogative, for which the minister is answerable. We may judge from circumstances or outward appearances. From these we may condemn; and I hope we have still a power to punish any minister that will dare to advise the king to preser or cashier upon such a motive. Whether this prerogative ought to remain as it is withoift any limitation,