Abbildungen der Seite

of parliament; and that to maintain By perusing the whole of the parathat parliament is “ not able to graph the reader may judge of the make laws to bind the crown, and mutilations it has suffered in the the descent thereof is high treason!” work before us. It is indeed surprising that any man « The commons consist of all such pretending a regard for British free- men of any property in the kingdom, as dom, can maintain the absurdity,

have not seats in the house of lords;

every one of which has a voice in parliathat any set of men should solemnly

w y, ment, either personally, or by his rerenounce and abdicate the right of presentative. "In a free state, every man choosing their own governors, for who is supposed a free agent, ought to themsclves and their posterity for be, in some measure, his own governor, ever! The technical language of and therefore a branch at least of the leacts of parliament can never anni- gislative power should reside in the hilate the rights of a people; and the


power, when the territories of the states conduct of the British revolutionists, are small, and its citizens easily known, from first to last, proves to demon- should be exercised by the people in stration, that they had not the most their aggregate or collective capacity, as distant idea of depriving their poste, was wisely ordained in the petty repubrity of a right which themselves had lics of Greece, and the first rudiments so boldly claimed, and so resolutely 0

and so resolutely of the Roman state. But this will be

· highly inconvenient when the public terexercised.

ritory is extended to any considerable When a writer thus displays his degree, and the number of citizens inattachment to the doctrine of here- creased.-In so large a state as ours it ditary claim to govern, and his en- is therefore very wisely contrived, that mity to the inalienable right of free- the people should do that by their repremeu to choose their own governors, sentatives, which it is in practicable to it need not excite surprise, that, als perform in person; representatives, cho

sen by a number of minute and separate

districts, wherein all the voters aie, or peculiar rights of his countrymen, easily may be distinguished.-In our he should handle the subject in so constitution, only such voters are entirepartial and so superficial a manner, ly excluded, as can have no will of their as evidently to shew the little re- own: there is hardly a free agent to be spect he entertains for those rights found, but what is entitled to a vote in

some place or other in the kingdom. Such conduct is, however, the less excusable in our author, as the TION: not that I assert it is in fact so

THIS IS THE SPIRIT OF OUR CONSTITUbook laying before him afforded perfect as I have endeavoured to describe such admirable instructions on this it; for if any alteration might be wished part of the subject: and here we or suggested in the present frame of parmust complain of the unfair repre- liuments, it should be in fuvour of a more sentation of the language of Black- complete representation of the people."* stone, contained in the following pa- a

“The principle,” says Mr. Custance

“ upon which the constitution of ragraph. “ In a free state every man, who is

" suffrages is framed in this country, supposed to be a free agent, ought to be “is to combine as much as possible in some measure his own governor; and “both numbers and property: so therefore one branch of the legislative " that there is scarcely an individual power very properly resides in the peo- who has real property but who has ple, or HOUSE OF COMMONS.—The com- " also a vote in elections in some part mons consist of all such men of property in the kingdom as have not seats in the house of lords; every commoner having * Blackstone's Commentaries, book I. a voice in parliament, either personally chap. 2. Montesquieu has a variety of or by his representative."

observations similar to the above in his Let us now turn to Blackstone. Spirit of Laws, book XI.

of the kingdom or other." If this parliament from seven to fourteen, be true in theory, we may remark, or twenty one years. As to the plea that in practice the case is totally respecting the “ popish rebellion," different. Mr. C. must be perfectly if those who made it were sincere, conscious, that thousands and tens of they would have been anxious to do thousands of Britons who possess away the innovation as soon as the considerable property have no vote professed reason for adopting it no for representatives : a vast majority longer existed. No one will pretend of the people have, as is acknow- the shadow of danger arising from ledged by Dr. Paley,“ no represen- “ popish” or any other rebellion, to “ tative at all, nor more power or have existed for the past half cen“ concern in the election of those who tury. “ are to make the laws, than if they It was the opinion of a distin. “ were the subjects of the Grand Sig- guished senator, who flourished in " nior!" and yet, notwithstanding this the last reign (Sir J. St. Aubyn,) glaring defect in our representation, “That the act declaring the right of we are gravely told by Mr. C. that the people to triennial parliaments, “this is the era of liberty in Britain!" stands a part of the original contract

The author repeats in the body under which the constitution was setof the work the sentiments he so tled at the revolution ; that his Macourageously advanced in the pre- jesty's title to the crown is primarily face.—“ The history of our liberties derived from that contract, and that was written in letters of blood, any deviation from it ought to be which our fathers shed; and we treated as so many injuries done to should be ready, if called upon, to that title”. Now, as Mr. C. is so transmit a continuation of it in the ready to “ shed his blood" in defence same indelible characters down to of the “ fundamental principles of posterity." After these repeated de- our admirable constitution, the clarations we were somewhat curious most “fundamental” of which are to learn the opinion of such a cham- pure and frequent representation, we pion of British rights, respecting have a right to expect from this high those scandalous innovations by spirited Briton, all the assistance he which we have been deprived of can possibly afford to those who are some of the most valuable of those zealous to bring about, by legal and rights. One of the most notorious peaceable means, a REFORM OF of these innovations annihilates our PARLIAMENT; and if our country right of electing representatives once men will but constitutionally, firmin three years, and prohibits us ly, and perseveringly exert themfrom the exercise of it for seven selves in so glorious a cause, we are years. On this subject Mr. C. con- persuaded it may be accomplished, tents himself with coldly remarking and at the same time the blood". +" That formerly the parliament of Mr. Custance, may continue to was triennial ; but now the period flow in his veins, as freely, and pleaof its existence is seven years. This santly, as his “ corrupt nature, alteration was effected by statute about which he is so perpetually 1. Geo. I. in order professedly to grumbling, will permit! avoid the frequent recurrence of ex But our hopes on this subject, as ! pence at elections, and to preserve they respect our author, are alas! the peace and security of govern- very faint, when we find him the ment, just then recovering from po- apologist of those corruptions, so pish rebellion." These miserable alarming to every real friend of the 1|| pretences might as well have been constitution, and which are arrived urged for prolonging the duration of at such a height as, to use the em


phatic language of the Right hon. bodies of borough jobbers, buyers and the Spcaker of the house of Com- sellers of scats in parliament, and mons, “ would have staRTLED our from all ininisters and their agents ancestors!” Respecting the most who are in the habit of practising flagrant of those corruptions our bribery in all its various forms. We author in the first edition of his find this most abominable passage work, expresses himself as follows:--- well exposed, by the editors of the 5," Pensions and sinecures are liable to Monthly Review, who amidst the be greatly abused; yet the bestowing of apostacy and venality of the times,

as been per- have preserved their characters as formed or implicu, is not always improper, but may sometimes be strictly poli

the champions of our civil and relitic and wise. Every man thinks' more gious rights unsullied." That this highly of himself than he ought to think; corrupt cant. (say the Reviewers) and is inore or less under the influence “ should be circulated among the of vanity, pride, selfishness, and ambi- middling and lower ranks is one of tion. It is, indeed, very easy to raise a the most alarming symptoms in the cry of bribery and corruption against

present state of the country. Where ministers of state; bụt a disinterested patriot is a very rare character, at all

csi is the reasoning to stop? Bribing in times,' in all countries, and under all voters at an election may be preachforms of government. The scriptures re- ed up as a religious duty ; and why present every unrenewed man, as proud, may not the same or similar means and disposed to resist all authority over be adopted for preserving the peace him. Yet most men in civilized states of corporations, parishes, mercantile are so sensible of the benefits of subordi

partnerships, and even domestic asnation, that they are ready to defend ! “every ordinance of man," provided

s provided sociations?-We are here enabled to

sociations! they themselves may but have a share contemplate Methodism” (rather the of the ruling power. They will even be professor of Methodism] “ in a new obedient for wrath, but none but the character, as the avowed advocate real christian will be so for conscience' and slave of Mammon, endeavoursake. If then many of those who, from ing to throw the cloak of evangelitheir talents and rank, have great influence in the country, were not by some

cal christianity over the foulest and means gratified, and thus engaged to

meanest abuses of worldly wisdom.*" support the government for their own Justice however to Mr. C.requires advantage: it would soon be overthrown that the obnoxious passage as alby the united efforts of ambition, and tered in the second edition, should avarice, and pride, and revenge. The be presented to the reader. minister, therefore, who has the address, ! « Pensions and sinecures bestowed perseasonably to confer a favour to uvoid a sonally or relatively for services to the greater evil, ought no more to be charged st:

o more to be charged state, cannot be objected to when they with BRIBERY, than the physician does are granted with discretion; but they are with POISONING, when he administers an

greatly abused when given without any opiate, to allay the irritation of his pa- regard to real merit. A free governtient. Doubtless, it is the bounden dutyment is endangered, whenever the love of the government to adopt the strictest alty of its subjects is purchased : and economy; but the total abolition of pen- probably no state has ever recovered sions and sinecures would not be politic, that has been once generally infected if practicable. The burdens of the state, with the fatal diste, nper of bribery. It indeed, would probably be no more is, however, in a moral view, that the lightened by such a ineasure, than a first- evil with us is chiefly to be dreaded. rate ship distressed in a storm would be, The specious patriot may indeed inflame by the officers throwing overboard their the popular feelings by an outcry about pocket money and trinkets."

an increase of taxes for pensioners and For this apology for bribery and placemen'; but it is probable that were corruption, Mr. Custance deserves an address of thanks from the united * Monthly Review foç July..


[ocr errors]

all objectionable sinecures at once abo- your evil ways, and by walking in lished, the burdens of the state would the paths of righteousness is too tribe no more lightened by such a measure, fling to merit your attention!" In than a first-rate ship distressed in a storm what school has Mr. C. been eduwould be, by the officers throwing over

1 cated? Where has he acquired this board their pocket money and trinkets.” Although the author's bare faced

faced depraved mode of reasoning?

depra apology for bribery and corruption is The plea of “ necessity” so conhere omitted, the arguments made sua

made stantly urged by corrupt statesmenin use of to reconcile the public to the all ages to “excuse their devilish pension and sinecure system deserve deeds," our author has always at to be severely reprobated : he must hand as a justification of the most surely be ignorant of the labours of tyrannical measures, civil and ecclethe finance committees in the housesiastical; The persecuting laws by of commons, and of the various doo which the prelates in the reign of cuments laid on the table of the Queen Elizabeth so cruelly oppressed house, on the subject of pensions the puritans, although acknowledged and sinecures, thesubstance of which to be very severe," are justified on has been pubļished in most of the the plea of necessity” which republic prints, or he could not have quires that the established church represented the matter in so trifling

should be " guarded in her infancy!! a point of view: but were his repre

The test and corporation acts, those sentation just, what are we to think

mixtures of profaneness and intoleof the principles of a man, a pro

rance, are, falsely, and absurdly, fessor of evangelical christianity,

pronounced “ conducive to the perwho is at the time the defender of

manency of our civil and ecclesias public abuses, under the plea“ that

tical establishment, the increase of it is chiefly in a moral view that the

our trade and commerce, and the evil is to be dreaded, for as it re

EXTENSION OF OUR LIBERTIES !!!" spects the alleviation of our burdens,

The odious custom of employing the subject is too insignificant to be regarded !" The author knew very

navy, which our author observes, well, that, to borrow his own lan

appears to be an invasion of the guage, “while human nature" or

“ liberty of the subject," is also justo speak more correctly, “human

tified on the favourite ground of nature, wilfully depraved, “ remains

“ state necessity !". On this subject what it is.” self interest will continue an argument is indeed urged which to be the prevailing motive which may serve as a standing apology for. sways the great majority : and he

maiority and be ALL existing abuses. . “ Doubtless" ought to have reflected, that although says our author, “if the evil comgovernments cannot work miracles plained of, admitted of a remedy yet by removing temptations, the

compatible with the safety of the fuel which administers to the fire of community, the enlightened legislahuman depravity is taken away, and

ture of a free people would long ere 51 human nature” necessarily be now have discovered and enacted it. comes less depraved. What should

What is the unavoidable inference we think of a public teacher of chris

to be drawn from such premises ? tianity, who after displaying the

Why truly, as “our enlightened enormity of vice, should say to his .

legislature” have not " discovered a audience, “but it is chiefly in a

remedy" for this, and numerous moral point of view, that the grati

other evils which have been the just fication of your lusts is to be dreaded,

subject of complaint “ to a free peofor as to your temporal interests, the

ple, doubtless those complaints ought benefit to be derived by relinquishing

to cease from henceforth and forever!


Thus the celebrated aphorism of Mr. means insensible to the excellence of Pope, descriptive of the divine go- the genuine principles of the British vernment/" Whatever is, is right," constitution, or to the value of is to be equally applied to the go- many of our civil institutions ; but vernment of our “ enlightened legis- when we reflect on the injustice, lature !"

cruelty, and profaneness of some of The Penal code of this country the laws which disgrace our civil has long been the subject of regret and' ecclesiastieal code, together to our best statesmen, and to every with much of the conduct of our adfriend of justice and humanity. No ministration, in our domestic policy, foreign government has adopted and towards foreign nations, (Copensuch a code, in which the punish- hagen in particular), we cannot ment of death has been inflicted for help exclaiming What nation as numberless offences, many of them there so depraved, that hath statutes comparatively trifling, so that the and judgments so iniquitous! penal laws of Britain, may be justly The work before us professes to be said to be like those of Draco, a view of the ecclesiastical, as well “ written in blood!” The prerogative as the civil constitution; but we are of mercy lodged in the crown, it is obliged to remark, that on both subacknowledged diminishes the horrors jeçts, the prejudices and errors of with which the execution of these the author are equally notorious. laws would otherwise be accom- The chapter" Of the Clergy" companied; but the sentence of capital mences with “ A brief statement of punishment being set aside, in nine the introduction of the christian micases out of ten, is a sufficient proof 'nistry," in which the very first paraof the injustice of the laws in ques- graph contains a most irrational, tion. This perpetual interference unscriptural, and degrading view of of the sovereign between the sentence the divine government, as it respects and the execution of the law, is at. . moral agents. We are informed that tended with this dangerous conse- “ by the transgression of Adam, not quence. Criminals are induced by only himself, but his posterity have the hope of escape to commit va- MERITED the punishment of divine rious offences, from which the cer- wrath." There has been much containty of punishment would most troversy amongst theologians respectprobably deter them. Laws, if just, ing the nature of the sin of Adam ; ought to be executed, and the inter- but we believe our author is the first, ference of the Royal prerogative and we hope he will be the last, who ought to be only an exception to a represents the God of infinite wisdom, general rule. Mr. Custance, how- justice and mercy, as damning to ever, bestows the most unqualified "all eternity, countless millions of his and extravagant panegyrick on that rational and immortal creatures, for " system of wisdom and compassion an offence committed thousands of the criminal code of English jus years before they had an existence, tice!" By the rapturous language and which of course could be no into which he breaks forth on this fault of theirs! A single sentence occasion, his mind appears filled from holy writ is fully sufficient to with the sentiment expressed in refute so blasphemous an absurdity, his motto, borrowed from sacred Shall not the judge of all the earth writ, and therein applied to a nation' do RIGHT? whose laws were written hy the After a few common place obserfinger of God.-What nation is there vations on the nature of the chris80 great that hath statutes and judg- tian dispensation, we are told that ments so righteous ?We are by no "the gospel has been, still is, and

« ZurückWeiter »