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ment, wisely exercised this prerogative " departure from their established prinby issuing a proclamation, forbidding “ciples, although at the time wearing, the sending writs to decayed boroughs; “ the specious appearance of advantage, por was it till the-prerogatives of the “ never fails to bring along with it, such crown were encroached upon at the era " a train of unforeseen inconveniences, of the revolution, when the seeds of this “ as to demonstrate their excellence, rotten-borough system, which have since “and the necessity of again having regrown so luxuriantly, and have produced “ currence to them.” And, how strikingsuch poisonous effects, the baneful in- ly that observation is exemplified in the fluence of which we now so sensibly consequences that have followed the defeel, were with woeful prodigality first parture from the principles of the conscattered over the land, that the coun- stitution, which has led to the establishtry was deprived of that corrective ment of this grievous borough-monger wisely lodged in the hands of the crown system, the inconsistency of which with by the constitution, for its preservation the principles of our laws and instituagainst the unavoidable innovations of tions, so glaring in the terms of the time, whilst the people, artfully led to writs of elections, as in every other point ascribe all the evils of the two former of view, no one can dispute. The simreigns to prerogative alone, willingly ple principle upon which, as upon a acquiesced in its retrenchment — in pivot, the whole of this subject of rewhich they made a fatal mistake, a mis- presentation turns, is this; that the free take originating in the idea that they subjects of this kingdom have a right of extended their own liberties in propor- property in their own goods; in other tion as they curtailed the prerogative of words, that the people of England canthe crown-an ingredient in the consti- not be legally and constitutionally taxed tution as essential to its existence, as is without their own consent. - I suppose an uncorrupt, full and fair representation this will not be denied; and yet it is of the people in this house.
equally indisputable, that this principle Had the constitutional power of the is absolutely annihilated by the present crown remained undiminished, this frame of the representation of this house, house would not now be in its present to which a petition on your table offers contaminated state; the just and great to prove, that one hundred and fiftyprerogative of the crown would have seven individuals have the power of rebeen exercised beneficially, and given turning a majority; so that the whole the King his proper weight in the ad- property of the free subjects of this ministration of national affairs, whilst kingdom is, in violation of this first and the people would have a shield -and a plain principle, at the disposal of 157 shield and not a sword is all the people borough-mongers, or in other words, 157 expect, in an uncorrupted and fairly borough-mongers have usurped, and hold elected house of Commons.--This I take as private property, the sovereignty of to be the constitution of England; but England. And can we be satisfied with out of this usurpation upon the crown, this miserable, pitiful substitution for conspiring with the innovations of time, the king and constitution? - Can the a third power has arisen, that of the people remain contented with the legis borough-mongers—the creature of inno- lation of such a power?--Impossible. vation, the worm of corruption, always Believe me, Sir, the discontent that exunknown to our laws, now become ists in this country, arises principally greater than the laws, equally hostile froin the certain knowledge the people to King and people, misrepresenting now have of the corrupt state of this one to the other, filling the mind of one house, and their exclusion from that with jealousy, the ears of the other with share in the constitution to which they alarm, which, by perpetuating discord, are by law intitled, that they are not reigns sole arbiter of the strife, and fairly, nor indeed at all represented,establishes its ignominious dominion in fact, that the interests of this house over both.-My first object, therefore, are not identified with, but opposite to is, to reunite the King and the people, theirs--remove this defect, repair this by the constitutional bond of allegiunce great injury, and the advantages will be on the one hand, and protection on the immediate and important; the people other.
will then believe, that all that is prac“ The wisdom of our laws,” says Lord ticable for their benefit will be done, çoke, " is most apparent in this, thatany and from that conviction they will na
'turally be reconciled to those evils, which is high time to put an end to it.— Is it to they would see a disposition to alleviate, be any longer endured, that four miland a mutual interest to redress.
lions of Irishmen should be aliens and Every part of the empire will feel the ontlaws in their native land? Is it safe benefit of the reform; but no where to have four millions of the people thrust ' will the great advantages of the measure out of the pale of the constitution? Is be likely to prove more salutary than in it consistent with reason, with common that most interesting part of the empire sense, putting justice out of the question,
İRELAND. From the deep interest I any longer to tolerate such a system? take in the concerns of that country, By the adoption of reform, the governfrom my idea of its mighty importance, ment will have the fairest opportunity have I reserved the mention of it till of removing the principal ground of dislast; though the consideration of the satisfaction in Ireland, now will be the manner in which I could devote my best time to do every thing without yielding service to it has never been out of my any thing, to legislate upon enlarged inind, never till now did it mature any principles; knowing nothing of particupracticable plan, calculated to give uni- lar parties, sects, or factions; keeping versal satisfaction to that generous, that alive no distinction of catholic, protesinsulted people, with perfect security to tant, and presbyterian, tory, whig, or the state. If reform is necessary here, jacobin; alarining no prejudice, insultit applies inuch more forcibly there; ing no party, they may now include the indeed, the peculiar situation of that whole within one bond of union of the country makes it a measure of imperious constitution, embracing and insuring the necessity.--On the subject of Ireland I safety and tranquillity of the empire at can hardly speak, from the fear of tres- large.- We shall then, and not till then, Jassing on the rule I had laid down for have an united kingdom-one king-one my conduct on this occasion. I dare people. We shall by this recurrence to not venture to trust myself with the the constitution, not only seat the chief grievances of Ireland. It is a subject 1, magistrate upon his throne, and fix the
cannot discuss without a more conside- crown upon his head, but we shall place 'sable degree of warmth, than is consis- within his hand the sceptre and legititent with that dispassionate line of con- mate power of the King, in despite of duct I am upon this occasion particularly those 157 borough-mongers, who have ansious to maintain. My desire is to TRAITEROUSLY usurped all but the pahave Ireland united with this country geantry and outward shew and fornis of upon terins, however, very different from royalty. those which at present exist. I should What is the condition of the King wish to see there a perfect equality of under this faction. Instead of taking advantage, and no exclusions. Of the advantage of the elevation of his situapresent union, so called, I shall speak tion, where the constitution bad placed but little at this time : suffice it to say, him, as the eye of the nation, for the that it was a measure contrary to the purpose of taking extensive views for the wishes, repugnant to the interest, and advantage of the national interests, berevolting to the feelings of that nation; yond the contracted horizon of ordinary and effected by means the most flagi- men, his whole time is employed, his gious, if the most unblushing corruption whole skill directed, not towards the on the part of the agents, and the duties of his high office, but in trying to breach of every solemn assurance to the keep his balance, in endeavouring to congreat body of that people, not only im- ciliate the support of such and such a plied but expressed by the government borough-monger, in order to obtain his of that country, deserve the appellation. permission to allow the government ta Instead of that parchment union, I shall go on.-In truth, the horough-faction propose a real union of heart and affec- have such power, that he is more like a tion, founded on the broad basis of the rope-dancer than a king; as they make constitution, of equal rights, and reci- it necessary for him to be perpetually procal interests. Away with that crook- on the alert to balance himself on bus ed policy, that narrow-minded bigotry slippery elevation, wlile the utmost he of legislation, that intolerable intole- can do is to keep his place. Such is rance, which keeps alive perpetual the state to wbich' he is reduced under heart-burnings, hatred and revenge. I the influence of this ignominious system, wish not to dwell upon this system; it instead of having his throne fixed on the
rock of the constitution, and bound to consist in re-uniting them again. --For the hearts of a whole people. This is this purpose I shall propose :not the situation in which the laws and That freeholders, householders, and constitution have placed the King, nor others, subject to direct taxation in that which his dignity requires, and the support of the poor, the church, and best interests of the people demand.
the state, be required to elect memThe system, of which I have now gi bers to serve in parliament. ven but a short sketch, which was in- . That each county be subdivided actroduced at the revolution, and grew cording to its taxed male populaout of the encroachments on the prero tion, and each subdivision required gatives of the King, aided by the inno to elect one representative. vations of time, has already cost this That the votes be taken in each panation nearly eight hundred millions of rish by the parish officers; and all debt; for though it has been wittily the elections finished in one and the said, that one half of this enormous debt same day. has been incurred in resisting the perfidy , That the parish officers make the rest and restless ambition of the house of turns to the sheriff's court to be. Bourbon, the other half in striving to held for that purpose at stated pereplace it on the throne of France, this
riods. is not true; the fact is, the whole has And, That parliaments be brought been incurred in the prosecution of the back to a constitutional duration : scheme of corrupting this house. " The simplicity of this plan appears
This question is so completely decided from its being the true constitution of by Magna Churta, “ which," as Lord England, which has already prepared all Coke says, “ is such a fellow that he the means ready to our hands of carrying " will bear no equal," so strongly forti- it into immediate effect; and I make no fied by all our constitutional laws, that hesitation in delivering it as my wellno inferior authority can be required; digested opinion, that under the operabut, were I so disposed, I could cite a tion of this reform, it would be attended host of legal and constitutional writers; with much less difficulty to return a and all those members of this house, whole parliament, than to settle & who have from time to time expressed dispute at a yestry about a parish their sentiments in support of this mea- pauper. By the adoption of this plan sure, whose arguments were never con- of reform, those disgraceful practices, futed, and whose talents, though suc- which now attend even county eleccessful on all other occasions, were un- tions, would be put a stop to. No availing when exerted in support of re- bribery, perjury, drunkenness, nor riot; form. This problem, however, is easily no “ wealthy brewer," as was humoursolved, when we consider that the appeal ously described, who, disappointed of a is made to the borough-mongers them- job, takes, in consequence, “ the indeselves, whose interest is opposite to the “ pendent line, and bawls out against measure. Their interest is different from “ corruption :" no opportunity would that of the people.
remain for such mock patriotism :-no Having taken the laws and constitu- leading attornies galloping about the tion for my guide, in preparing the mea- country, lying, cheating, and stirring up sure I shall have to propose, I at the the worst passions amongst the worst same time examined attentively all those people :--no ill blood engendered beplans for carrying the same principle into tween friends and relations-setting faexecution, which have at different times milies at variance, and making each been proposed; and having avoided all county a perpetual depository of election - those intricacies which I considered as feuds and quarrels :no demagogueing.
80 many impediments in the way, have If I am a demagogue, I am as com- reduced it to that plain and simple form, plete a felo de se as can well be imathe express image of the constitution it- gined this puts an end to the occupaself.--My plan consists in a very few, tion :- There would be an end to all and very simple regulations, and as the odious and fanciful distinctions of perdisease we now labour under has been sons and property-all would be simple caused by the disunion of property, and and uniform; their weight and influence political right, which reason, and the proportioned to their intrinsic valueconstitution say should never be sepa- no qualifications nor disqualifications. rated, the remedy I shall propose will no invidious exclusions by reason of any office, from the highest to the lowest, 'the event of such a reform no such claeither in the elector or in the elected mour could exist, no such alliance could no variable, fantastical, litigious rights be formed; for then the sense of the . of voting-no possibility of false votes people would be truly and fairly collect
po treating-no carrying out voters--no ed within these walls. charges of any kind---no expence, legal The benefits that would immediately or illegal no contested elections. The follow the adoption of this reform are people would have a choice without a incalculable. Though I am not one of contest, instead of a contest without a those who would apply a sponge to the
choice; no sham remedies worse than debt of the nation, yet I am firmly per- the disease pretended to be cured-no suaded, that a reformed house of com
Grenville act; here I speak feelingly; mons would introduce such a system of I have undergone this remedy. It is the economy, both in the collection and exremedy of a toad under a harrow.- penditure of the public revenve, as “ Haud ignara malis, miseris succurere would give instant ease to the subject; « disco." That act, which has been so and finally, and that at no very distant highly extolled, was itself called a re- period, by a due application of national foron ;-as all the acts aggravating the objects, and to them alone, free the peomischief, which have been substituted ple from that enormous load of debt and for the constitution, are called in this consequent taxation, under which the house. .
nation is weighed down. Under the operation of that act, I Three descriptions of persons, I will have suffered a greater pecuniary penalty admit, would have great cause to com
than any which the law would have in- plain of this reform:- The borough.flicted for any crime I could have com- mongers—the lawyers and the King's mitted; this remedy is a luxury, a man printer. The whole of the question must be very rich indeed to indulge then is, which is to be preferred, the inhimself in. I could not afford it a second terest of the whole empire, or the inte time, and preferred abandoning my seat rest of the borough-mongers—the lawafter having been returned, to under- yers and the King's printer? going another operation of the Grenville At all events, I hope this consequence act. One great object I have in view will follow, that after this night it will is to relieve other gentlemen from the not be asserted nor insinuated, that I like benefits, by preventing the neces- have any concealed purpose, that I sity of having recourse to such remedies shrink from speaking my sentiments in future-by getting rid of all disputes, frankly, that I decline to act an open and contested elections : this good cons part, or that I have any designs beyond sequence will result fron the adoption those I avow : notwithstanding what I of this plan, besides preventing endless have urged, I beg leave to repeat, that litigation, ruinous expence, perjury, ill I am open to conviction, that I am still blood, and periodical uproar and con- ready to listen to all fair reasoning on fusion, this house will be saved one-third the subject; that I have nothing to bias of its time in election committees; and my mind; nor any other view than the the statute book will be relieved from public good. It will, at the same time the shameful burden of one hundred and be naturally understood, that having dethirteen confused and intricate laws, all voted so much of my time and reflection pitiful substitutes for the constitution to this subject of vital importance, my
There may be some gentlemen who opinions cannot easily be shaken nor think we should not get a better assem- affected by slight and common-place bly within this house by this 'or any arguments. other plan of reform.-Even supposing, I have stated fully and dispassionate but by no means admitting, such should ly, and I hope clearly and satisfactorily. unaccountably be the case, the positive to this house and to the public, the reevils we should get rid of are sufficient medy for all our grievances, which I recommendations to its adoption. It have been so often called upon to promust also give rise to other important duce. I have obeyed that call : in that results_those who complain of popular at least, I hope I have given satisfacclamour-of persons allying themselves tion. The remedy I have proposed is with the people agàinst the sentiments simple, constitutional, practicable, and and decisions of this house, would cease safe, calculated to give satisfaction to to have any room for complaint. In the people, to preserve the rights of the crown, and to restore the balance of such wishes. On the contrary, as fur the constitution. These have been the as he was able to collect the sentiments of objects of my pursuit-to these have I the people ut lurge, they were directly always directed my attention-higher I the contrary! The hon, bart. called on do not aspire, lower I cannot descend. the house to revert to the statute law; I conjure this house to consider the ne- which in practice had been confounded ; cessity of doing something to satisfy the. but by the plan the bon. bart. proposed rational expectations of the public, that we were to get rid of the statute law we should not go back to our respective altogether, and of every act of parliaparts of the country in our present ment passed upon this subject; but he acknowledged contaminated condition, knew of no mode so effectual for the obwithout holding out some reasonable ject avowed as the practice of the conhope to the country for its peace and stitution itself. Would the hon. bart. tranquillity, that a reform adequate to oppose the right of taxation as originathe removal of the enormous and multi- ting in that house, or would he encroach plied abuses and corruptions' now known upon the prerogative, or the rights of to exist, and which I contend can only the other house of parliament Yet be effected by a house of commons fair- the hon. baronet proposed, as a result ly chosen by the people, will early in of his plan, the getting rid of 113 acts of the next session be entertained with parliament on this subject, as the best good faith, and taken into our most se- mode of putting an end to all contest. rious consideration.--I would have the But did he suppose it possible that contimid bear in mind who stand so much tests were to be thus banished; or that in dread of innovation, that the simple no such rival candidates were to start un remedy now proposed is but a recur- in any district? and if not, how, so long rence to those laws, and that constitu- as contests were to exist, could he get tion, the departure from which has been rid of bribery, or perjury, or riot, or the sole cause of that accumulation of most of the other evils he now comevils which we now endure-that in plained of as attached to the present many cases timidity is no less fatal than system of election? The hon. baronet rashness and that the omission to proposed that every person who paid “ do what is necessary, seals a commis- direct taxes to the church, the state, or "sion to a blank of danger."-I shall the poor, should have the right of voting now conclude with moving, “ That this at elections. [Sir Francis said No:" bouse will, early in the next session those who pay to them all.] Why, there "of parliament, take into consideration were few men of any description who " the necessity of a reform in the repre- did not pay taxes of some sort; and “sentation."
did not the hon. baronet see the confuMr. Perceval, although he did not. sion which this regulation must producer think the house would be disposed now The plan was to get rid of 113 statutes; to entertain the proposition just sug- but it must require one statute, pretty gested by the hon. baronet, begged leave voluminous, to guard against all the to detain the house by a few short ob- mischiefs with which the project was. servations upon it, without meaning to fraught; and now, with all the wisdom , go through all the topics of the speech that could be lavished in the formation they had heard. The hon. baronet said, of such a statute for the prevention of he felt himself called upon for a full and dispute, would the hon. 'baronet guard formal profession of his sentiments upon against the possibility of lawyers starting the subject. Who it was that had so doubts and difficulties to create contencalled upon the hon. baronet he knew tion? The election by parishes then not. The subject had come before the must become just as open to contest, , house on a recent night, and at the mo- and all the evils incident to those for ment when a bill for parliamentary re- counties. How was a man who had form was under discussion; but he never given his vote in one parish, to be hinheard that the hon. baronet was desired dered from tendering it in another, or to make any statement at large on a from being exposed to all the artifices future day. That the sentiments of the and temptations usually exerted to encoupeople were congenial with those professed rage bribery and perjury? If the hon. by the hon. buronet, he positively denied, baronet imagined he could get rid of all although the persons with whom he was those difficulties, he must first alter the in the habit of associating might have frame of men's minds, and change the