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learned gentleman need not warn him upon that subject. He saw that danger clearly; but he was not one of those who looked at the danger on one side only. The honourable and learned gentleman had said, if he joined bad men, he could not shake off his companions, nor check their excess; a truth which history confirmed. Was it not true on the other side also ? If it was true, that if he acted with men of bad principles, the effect of such a junction might be that those who had served them in a particular cause might have no power to resist their fury, was it not, however, undeniably true, that those who joined a particular minister, and assisted him in his attempts to destroy the constitution of the country, would feel the same inability to check the progress of his ambition ? Was it not as clearly true, if he had lent his assistance to bring about that euthanasia of the constitution, that he must afterwards yield his life to that accursed power who had effected the destruction of their country? He believed the time was not very distant, when those who had lent the minister, what he would call very honourable assistance, would not deny that they were become his personal slaves. He believed that some of them had felt it, and he thought he had seen some symptoms of that fact already. Certain gentlemen smiled at this: he did not mean to say any thing that could be deemed a personal degradation to them, if they did not feel it for themselves. But when he saw, day after day, and year after year, a system pursued, which tended to bring this country to that euthanasia predicted by Hume, he could not say he was willing to be an assistant in its accomplishment. With regard to the mischief, which was dreaded from the junction of men who only wanted to reform abuses with those who wished the destruction of the constitution, he would apply the remedy proposed by Mr. Burke, in the case of America, who had said on that occasion, that he would wish to separate the Americans — not by separating the north from the south, not by separating the east from the west, not by separating Boston from Philadelphia, but by separating those who were merely discontented with the abuses of the constitution, from those who had a hatred for it, and wished its total destruction.

The honourable and learned gentleman had asked, in what manner they should enter into a negociation with these discontented persons? He believed there would be some difficulty in knowing with whom to treat. As to the question, how we should treat ? his answer was, by conciliation. This would be done, as Mr. Burke had said, by separating them. How were they to be separated ? By setting about to correct abuses in earnest, as much as possible, whether in that House, or in any other part of the government. This would remove

all ground of jealousy and discontent on the part of those who loved the constitution, and who wished only to see the abuses eradicated; and this would destroy the alliance between them and those who really harboured a hatred for the constitution itself. This was the sort of separation which Mr. Burke recommended with regard to the Americans; and this was the separation which he would recommend, of the discontented in the country, at this time. Strike out the bad part of our present system, add to the beautiful parts, if that be possible; but, at all events, strike out the bad ones; and then, although they should not reconcile to their system, those who hated the constitution itself, they would deprive them of their force, by taking away the arguments by which they prevailed on good men to join them, and by which alone they could ever become formidable; namely, that of stating the abuses of our constitution as they subsisted in practice at present. What were the arguments that these men made use of to gain to their party those who loved the constitution, and which had been said by the honourable and learned gentleman to be so seducing? Topics of abuses in the constitution! Reform those abuses, and they took these seducing arguments away. It was, indeed, the whole of their argument; for as to their theory of government, that he was sure would not make any deep impression on the body of the people, who had too much good sense to be misled by such egregious fallacies.

The honourable and learned gentleman, in one part of his speech, and only in one, seemed to have a reference to the bill before the House. The honourable and learned gentleman admitted that the House was going to make a sacrifice by the measure before them; but had contended that what was retained of the rights of the people was still of higher value; the history of governments was certainly better than theory; in this, therefore, he agreed with the honourable and learned gentleman. He did not, however, agree with him, that what they were to retain was superior to what they had to lose, if the bill were passed into a law. That which was to be taken away was the foundation of the building. It might, indeed, be said, that there were beautiful parts of the building still left. The same might be said of another building that was undermined : “Here is a beautiful saloon, there is a fine drawing-room; here are elegant paintings, there elegant and superb furniture; here an extensive and well chosen library.” But if the foundation was undermined, there could be nothing to rest upon, and the whole edifice must soon fall to the ground. "Such would be the case with our constitution, if the bill should pass into a law. Our government was valuable, because was free. What, he begged gentlemen to ask

themselves, were the fundamental parts of a free government? He knew there was a difference of opinion upon that subject. His own opinion was, that freedom did not depend upon the executive government, nor upon the administration of justice, nor upon any one particular or distinct part, nor even upon forms so much as it did on the general freedom of speech and of writing. With regard to freedom of speech, the bill before the House was a direct attack upon that freedom. No man dreaded the use of a universal proposition more than he did himself; he must nevertheless say, that speech ought to be completely free, without any restraint whatever, in any government pretending to be free. By being completely free, he did not mean that a person should not be liable to punishment for abusing that freedom, but he meant freedom in the first instance. The press was so at present, and he rejoiced it was so; what he meant was, that any man might write and print what he pleased, although he was liable to be punished, if he abused that freedom; this he called perfect freedom in the first instance. If this was necessary with regard to the press, it was still more so with regard to speech. An imprimatur had been talked of, and it would be dreadful enough; but a dicatur would be still more horrible. No man had been daring enough to say, that the press should not be free: but the bill before them did not, indeed, punish a man for speaking, it prevented him from speaking. For his own part, he had never heard of any danger arising to a free state from the freedom of the press, or freedom of speech; so far from it, he was perfectly clear that a free state could not exist without both. The honourable and learned gentleman had said, would they not preserve the remainder by giving up this liberty ? He admitted, that, by passing of the bill, the people would have lost a great deal. A great deal ! (said Mr. Fox,) Aye, all that is worth preserving. For you will have lost the spirit, the fire, the freedom, the boldness, the energy of the British character, and with them its best virtue. I say, it is not the written law of the constitution of England, it is not the law that is to be found in books, that has constituted the true principle of freedom in any country, at any time. No ! it is the energy, the boldness of a man's mind, which prompts him to speak, not in private, but in large and popular assemblies, that constitutes, that creates, in a state, the spirit of freedom. This is the principle which gives life to liberty ; without it the human character is a stranger to freedom. If you suffer the liberty of speech to be wrested from you, you will then have lost the freedom, the energy, the boldness of the British character. It has been said, that the right honourable gentleman rose to his present eminence by the influence of popular

favour, and that he is now kicking away the ladder by which he mounted to power. Whether such was the mode by which the right honourable gentleman attained his present situation I am a little inclined to question; but I can have no doubt that is this bill shall pass, England herself will have thrown away that ladder, by which she has risen to wealth, (but that is the last consideration,) to honour, to happiness, and to fame. Along with energy of thinking and liberty of speech, she will forfeit the comforts of her situation, and the dignity of her character, these blessings which they have secured to her at home, and the rank by which she has been distinguished among the nations. These were the sources of her splendour, and the foundation of her greatness

Sic fortis Etruria crevit, Scilicit et rerum facta est pulcherrima Roma. We need only appeal to the example of that great city, whose prosperity the poet has thus recorded. In Rome, when the liberty of speech was gone, along with it vanished all that had constituted her the mistress of the world. I doubt not but in the days of Augustus there were persons who perceived no symptoms of decay, who exulted even in their fancied prosperity, when they contemplated the increasing opulence and splendid edifices of that grand metropolis, and who even deemed that they possessed their ancient liberty, because they still retained those titles of offices which had existed under the republic. What fine panegyrics were then pronounced on the prosperity of the empire ! -- Tum tutus bos prata perambulat.” This was flattery to Augustus: to that great destroyer of the liberties of mankind, as much an enemy to freedom, as any of the detestable tyrants who succeeded him. So with us, we are to be flattered with an account of the form of our government, by King, Lords and Commons- Eadem magistratuum vocabula. There were some then, as there are now, who said that the energy of Rome was not gone; while they felt their vanity gratified in viewing their city, which had been converted from brick into marble, they did not reflect that they had lost that spirit of manly independance which animated the Romans of better times, and that the beauty and splendour of their city served only to conceal the symptoms of rottenness and decay. So if this bill passes you may for a time retain your institution of juries and the forms of your free constitution, but the substance is gone, the foundation is undermined ;--- your fall is certain and your destruction inevitable. As a tree that is injured at the root and the bark taken off, the branches may live for a while, some sort of blossomn may still remain; but it will

soon wither, decay, and perish: so take away the freedom of speech or of writing, and

the foundation of all your freedom is gone. You will then fall, and be degraded and despised by all the world for your weakness and your folly, in not taking care of that which conducted you to all your fame, your greatness, your opulence, and prosperity. But before this happens, let the people once more be tried. I am a friend to taking the sense of the people, and therefore a friend to this motion. I wish for every delay that is possible in this important and alarming business. I wish for this adjournment

“ Spatium requiemque furori.” Let us put a stop to the madness of this bill; for if you pass it, you will take away the foundation of the liberty of the people of England, and then farewel to any happiness in this country! The House divided on the question of adjournment : Tellers.

SMr. Curwen 7

Mr. Steele
Mr. Whitbread $ 70.


{Mr. Wallace} 269

November 27 On the order of the day for going into a committee on the sedition bill, Mr. Fox rose merely to ask when it was probable that the report, and the third reading of the bill, would come on. He said, he supposed when the bill had gone through the committee, that it would be reported, and then ordered to be printed. Mr. Pitt said, that immediately after the bill had gone through the committee, he should move for it to be printed, and that the further consideration would probably come on about Tuesday, December 1., and the third reading on the Thursday following Mr. Fox, Mr. Grey, Mr. Lambton, Mr. Whitbread, General Tarleton, General Macleod, and the other opposers of the bill (Mr. Sheridan excepted) immediately rose and left the House. Mr. Sheridan said, he did not attend for the purpose of proposing any amendments to the bill, being persuaded that no alteration, except that of negativing every clause in it, would be of service, or render it palatable to the great majority of the public. He attended chiefly to watch some things which were going forward, and to hear what amendments would be proposed.

November 30. On the motion for going into a committee on the treason bill, Mr. Erskine opposed the Speaker's leaving the chair. He observed, that the bill diminished the liberty of the subject, without adding to the safety of the king's person. It was a political maxim, le said, of long standing, that the best government was that which produced the greatest security with the fewest restraints, and the worst, that which increased penalties without undisputed evi

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