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to be a house of commons; for it is not the derivation of the power of that house from the people, which makes it in a distinct sense their representative; for the King is the representative of the people, so are the Lords, and so are the Judges; for they all are trustees for the people, as well as the commons ; because no power is given for the sole sake of the holder; and although government is certainly an institution of divine authority, yet its forms, and the persons who administer it, all originate from the people.
“ A popular origin cannot, therefore, be the characteristical distinction of a popular representative, which belongs equally to all parts of government, and in all forms. THE VIRTUE, SPIRIT, AND ESSENCE OF A HOUSE OF COMMONS CONSIST IN ITS BEING THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF THE FEELINGS OF THE NATION. It was not instituted to be a control upon the people, as of late it has been taught, by a doctrine of the most pernicious tendency, but as a control for the people. Other institutions have been formed for the purpose of checking popular excesses ; and they are I apprehend fully adequate to their object. If not, they ought to be made so. But the house of commons, as it was never intended for the
peace and subordination, is miserably appointed for that service; having no stronger weapon than its mace, and no better officer than its serjeant at arms, which it can command of its own proper authority. A vigilant and jealous eye over executory and judicial magistracy; an anxious care of public money ; an openness, approaching towards facility, to public complaint ;—these seem to be the true characteristics of an house of commons. But an addressing house of commons, and a petitioning nation; a house of commons full of confidence, when the nation is plunged in despair; in the utmost harmony with ministers, whom the people regard with the utmost abhorrence; who vote thanks, when the public opinion calls upon them for im
peachments; who are eager to grant, when the general voice demands reckoning and account; who in all disputes between the people and administration, presume against the people ; who punish their disorders, but refuse even to inquire into the provocations to them. This is an unnatural, a monstrous state of things in this constitution.”
Sir, this is, in plain English, the degraded disgraceful state of this assembly at this moment. There was a time, and it has undergone no improvement since, when the right honorable gentleman admitted this to be truth. He admitted during the American war, what he denies to maintain his own war. Does any man now doubt that the constitution of this house was the cause of war with America, of the dismemberment of the empire which followed it, and of all the portentous consequences which have since crowded in its train? It has been often said, that the American war was at first the war of the people. No doubt it was, as every act of government will be popular which does not proceed merely from the crown, but begins with the general sanction of the people's representatives. The crown secures all the men of influence, property, and consideration in Parliament; and they carry the people with them, until they are at last brought to their senses by calamity and impending ruin. My proposition therefore is, that, with the management of our mighty revenue in the hands of the crown, and taking into consideration the manner in which the members of the house are elected, the house of commons has totally lost its original office and character as a balance against the Crown.
“Sir, it is often, perhaps always, by the concurrence of accidents rather than by the operation of permanent causes, that the great events of the world are brought to pass. The seeds of reformation, which had been scattered in the ground by these great men, came up at first but slowly ; but they were carefully gathered, and re-sown by
the right honorable gentleman himself. In the fulness of time, they grew up into strength; and but for his own fatal efforts, would have then ripened into a glorious harvest. But that which a man soweth, that shall he reap.-It was in vain that the right honorable gentleman, at the head of a corrupt government, endeavoured to repress the doctrines which he had propagated himself. He sought in vain to extinguish the popularity of a reform in Parliament, without which he had himself solemnly and deliberately maintained within these walls, that the liberties of this nation were undone. Unfortunately, however, he made the attempt, aided by the very corruptions, to the baneful effects of which he had himself opposed the reform, which he now persecuted. It was from this unprincipled opposition, and not from any republican contagion, that the spirit of the reformers acquired new energy, and force. This was the source of all that bitterness, with which they accused and reviled the late house of commons. For this cause they despised, and for this cause they therefore libelled the late Parliament, because they saw it struggling to maintain its own corruptions under the auspices of the very minister who had solemnly declared them to be wholly incompatible with the very being of an upright administration. I do not overlook the danger of such a state of things. I feel as much as any man the inevitable ruin of every government, which is suffered to fall into contempt and disregard with the people. But knowing that no such loss of authority ever happened from the beginning of the world, but when governments fell off from the ends of their institutions, I feel in common with my excellent and enlightened friend who has moved the proposition, that the only cure for the evils which alarm government for its safety is, to make it what it has been in the days of our fathers, when it preserved the freedom of the people, and was crowned with the
people's love and veneration. Upon that sound principle Mr. Grey brought forward his former motion in the year 1793, which I then seconded, as I am now doing the motion of to night. We thought then, as we think still, that the only mode of giving a safe direction to a spirit turbulent in the demand of liberty, was to give to Englishmen the substantial blessings of their own government. We thought that the surest antidote against those visionary and dangerous theories which constantly spring up from the heat of revolutionary movements, was to hold out to the people the real advantages which the British constitution in its native simplicity and purity was calculated to bestow. To raise a standard, around which the lovers of English liberty might proudly rally, to which all wanderers from it might return, and which would secure allegiance not by terror, which always fails in the moment of peril, but by the enjoyment of solid and substantial happiness; by the return of mild laws, of personal security, and the enjoyment of the fruits of their own industry, which are now squeezed to the very husks by the grinding machinery of a crushing and overwhelming revenue. This proposition was, however, rejected (as the present to night will be) and not merely rejected, but rejected with insult, and contempt. The right honorable gentleman, not contented with apostatizing from the principles he once professed, resisted them in a spirit and language of the loftiest pride and arrogance, which have since received their just rebuke in disgrace and humiliation. The cause of reform was to be, at all events, pulled down ; and all who maintained it were to be stigmatized, persecuted, and oppressed. This is the clue to every measure of government from that time to the present. The reformers had mixed with their cause an enthusiasm for the liberties of France, and for that reason the liberties of France were to be crushed. But the insolence with which the mighty changes of the rising world were denounced within these walls, is an awful lesson to mankind. It has taught us, that there is an arm fighting against the oppressors of freedom, stronger than any arm of flesh; and that the great progressions of the world in spite of the confederacies of power, and the conspiracies of corruption, move on with a steady pace, and arrive in the end at a happy and glorious consummation. I have always thought alike concerning the French revolution, and I have not now to assume that tone in the moment of adversity in which France must now be spoken to by those, who, from their vain defiances, have invested her with her potentous strength. The object of ministers was, it seems, to maintain the subordination of the laws, to uphold public credit, and to maintain, as they stiled it, the regular system of things. What has been the consequence? In the pursuit of this new mode of supporting monarchical establishments, they have absolutely changed, and are hourly changing, into republican establishments, the whole face of the earth. In support of public credit, they have broke the Bank; and in pursuit of public order, and in maintenance of what they call the constitution, they are driving Ireland, as America was formerly driven, to seek for emancipation in the arms of France; and if the present system be pursued longer, I maintain that what Ireland is at this moment, England will shortly be. All this portentous scene is chargtable on the last Parliament. No minister of the crown could have accomplished the ruin of the country, without a compliant and corruptly devoted infatuated house of commons. I maintain, that if upon the day that our former motion for a reform was rejected, which was about the beginning of the career of his majesty's ministers; I maintain, that if the most arbitrary and rapacious tyrant that ever afflicted mankind by his ambition, had invaded and conquered England, he could not, consistently with