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Some advocates posess the happy talent of injuring the cause which they mean to support. This is strongly exemplified in Mr. Young, who actually furnishes the strongest arguments in favour of that very reform of parliament which he labours so ftrenuously to refift. The following paragraph from the pamphlet before us will serve to prove that this is not an unfounded assertion :
« But” (says he, p.92) “ the House of Commons are corrupted and bribed. And if the nature of such an allembly demands to be corrupted in order to pursue the public good, who but a visionary can with to remove corruption ?" Must not an assembly, constituted for the public good, be of a mof detestable nature, if it demands to be bribed in order to discharge its duty ? Again, “ Influence, or, as Reformers call it, Corruption, is the oil which makes the machine of Government go well.” And p. 171, “ Extravagant Courts, selfish Ministers, and corrupt MAJORITIES, are so intimately interwoven with our practical freedom, that it would require better poli. tical anatomilts, than our modern reformers, to lhew, on fact, that we did not owe our liberty to the identical evils which they want to expunge.” Could the whole National Convention more grossly libel the King, the Ministers, and the Parliament, of this country ? Surely, Mr. Young must have known, that he was writing the most bitter and dangerous satire on our Government, when he said, that extravagant Courts, selfiih Ministers, and Corrupt Majorities, were intimately interwoven with our Freedom; and yet asfert, that this is " that glorious Constitution which is the inheritance and pride of Bri. tons !” I appeal to every candid man whether the friends to the Li. berty of the Press, or Mr. Young, seem most disposed « to publish The Corruptions of the Constitution, in other words, to write it down. (Vide p. 163.)"
The present author considers the question of Reform under four disa tin&t points.- ist, The nepellity of reformning the House of Commons, 2dly, How far a reform can be made in conformity with the spirit, principles, and practice of the Constitution. 3dly, The time for mak. ing a reform. Athly, What the nature of the reform Nould be.
The neceflity of a reform he proves by Mr. Y.'s very admillion of the existence of corruption ; by the declaration made by Mr. Pitt, when Mr. Pitt was a reformer, that “ it was notorious that the Na. bob of Arcot had fifteen members in the (then) House of Commons, and that they did not act upon an identity of interest with the people;" by the consequence to be deduced from this fact, thac ' any other prince might send in his members, and, by expending a million of money, take the money out of Englishmen's pockets, and force them to fighe his battles. The channel through which a prince might do ibis die Thews to be the rotten and venal boroughs.
Some have defended the propriety of preserving such boronghs, by saying that a certain degree of influent. over the House of Commons kas necessary to the crown : but the spirit of the Constitution disavows such influence. If it were intended that the crown should influence that house, why was it not left to the King to nominate the members ? Je is evident that the Constitution meaned that the will of the people alene mould influence it, as it was to the peopie alone that it gave the
right of electing the members. Nay, though it vested in the King the prerogative of calling subjects to seats in the House of Lords, it took care, left they should be under influence if they were to fit there only during pleature, that the grant of the peerage should be irrevocable except by act of parliament. Who, then, can deny that the letter and spirit of the Constitution are against an influence of the crown over the parliament?
Under the second head of inquiry, he shews that such is the genius of our Conititution, that it adapts itself to circumstances and exigencies, and admits of reform without the smalleit violence to its spirit or es. sence. It appears that formerly none but liberi homines, or freemen, had a right to vote at elections; and that none were truly denominated freemen, but land owners who held in capite. In subsequent times, circumstances required an extension of this franchise, and it was accordingly extended to freeholders who held not in capite, and to en of confideration in the fate, without any violence or injury to the Conftitution.
On the subject of the time for making a reform, the author, bor. rowing exprefsions from the speeches of Mr. Francis on the 7th of May, of Mr. Grey on the 6th, and of Mr. Erskine on the 7th, thus remarks, with Mr. Grey:
:“ This, indeed, is a never failing argument, equally in times of prosperity and adversity; in times of war and peace. If our fituation happens to be prosperous, it is then asked, whether we can be more than happy, or more than free? In the season of adverfity, on the other hand, all reform or innovation is deprecated, from the pretended risk of increasing the evil and pressure of our situation. From all this, it would appear, that the time for reform never yet has come, and never can come.”
With respect to the 4th head, what the nature of the reform should be, the author suggests not any plan of his own, nor rejects any one that has yet been recommended, but expreffes his concurrence in opinion with Mr. Grey, that to contitute the House of Commons by universal suffrage, or by any other mode which would make it more independent than it is at present, would be a salutary improvement.
. He remarks that the plan of universal suffrage, which seems so violently to alarm Mr. Young, has not been proposed even by the most violent leader of the most violent fociety in Britain; such he prefumes Mr. Y. considers Mr. Horne Tooke and the Constitutional Society.
-To follow the author farther on this subject, we should exceed our prescribed limits.
· What we have said of this performance will probably incline our readers to peruse a work, which, if they be not wedded to prejudice, will afford them very rational entertainment: they will find the author clear in his positions, strong in his arguments, found in his principles, just in his conclufions, and, on the whole, moderate in the measures which he would recommend.-Though Mr. Y. is honoured with the greatest share of his attention, Mr. Reeves, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rev. J. Gardener of Taunton, the Rev. Mr. Bromley of Fitzroy Chapel, aud Judge Alhhurst, are not overlooked.
Art. 29. The Merits of Mr. Pitt and Mr. Hastings, as Minifiers in War and in Peace, impartially stated. Evo. pp. 80. 2s. Debrett. 1794.
As the contents of this notable pamphlet have previously appeared, as Essays, in the news paper called The World, we shall contine our remarks on them to a narrow compass. We think that nothing can be more improper than appeals to the public on the subje&t of a suit which is actually depending in a court of law. The judges ought to have nothing before them to direct their judgment, except the evidence given in the courie of the trial, and the remarks of the advocates on both sides. It is an insult to justice to attempt to bias the mind of the court by extrajudicial publications. In the case before us, the able svriter is evidently a partizan of Mr. Hastings, whom he justifies by what may be called argumentum ad bomines : he labours to thew that those who approve of the conduct of Mr. Pitt are bound, by the principle of consistency, to acquit Mr.Hattings ; and that those, who agree with Mr. Dundas in the flattering account which he gives of the finances of the East India Company, are bound not merely to acquit but to give honour to Mr. Hattings, for having found out the resources which make the revenue of Bengal so productive at this mo. ment. He goes farther; he shows that part of this revenue arises from the expulsion of Cheyt Syng from Benares, and from the terms imposed by Mr. Hastings on the successors of that native chief, of which England now avails herself, though she is actually profecuting Ms. Haitings for itripping Cheyt Sing of his Zemindary, and for exacting a greater tribute from the country of Benarcs than it could afford to pay without ruin to the inhabitants. The writer lays great stress on this circumstance, that the very persons who accuse Mr. Hastings on this head have not thought proper to lessen that tribute, but have on the contrary reckoned on the continuance of it as part of the permanent income of Bengal. We admit that those who act in this manner cannot, with a good grace, appear as accusers ; they ought first to remit the excess of tribute, and then profecute the man who wantonly imposed it. We can discover no confistency in those who would receive stolen goods, convert them to their own use, and afterward, without intending reftitution, prosecute the man from whom the goods were received. Such conduct, however, is far from being uncommon; for how often have we known a member of Parliament, while in opposition, violently reprobate, as unjust and oppressive, taxes proposed by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, of which, when he came into power himself,- so far from repealing them,-he has availed himself as much as of the most approved part of the revenue.
Sh. Art. 30. A State of the Representation of the Prople of England, on
the Principles of Mr. Pitt in 1785 ; with an annexed State of ad. ditional Propositions ; by the Rev. Christopher Wyvill, late Chairman of the Committee of Association of the County of York. 8vo. pp. 55. 15. Johnson. 1793.
The respectable author of this little pamphlet, seeing that the ques. tion of reform is drawing fast toward a crisis, and that the time is. probably not far diftant when a collision may take place between the fupporters and opposers of this measure, so much dreaded by one
set of men, and so ardently desired by another, as essential to the well being of the state and the happiness of the people ; comes forward with the olive branch to discharge the duties of a minister of peace, and to act as mediator between two parties, one of which asks for every thing, and the other is for granting nothing. He shews that both should take into consideration times and circumstances, and there read the absolute necelüty of mutual concessions. It is on this ground that he feels himself disposed to carry reform farther at this moment than it was intended, in 1785, by Mr. Pitt and the association to which he at that time belonged. The plan of 1785 was more than even the people themselves could be brought to request at that period, but a great deal less than they now demand.
It is in consequence of a change in the temper of the times, that Mr.W. thinks the plan of 1785 inadequate; and he therefore fubfti. tutes another in its place, not different in principle, but formed on a more extensive scale.
Our readers will recollect that. Mr. Pitt proposed to abolish forty rotten boroughs, and to add 67 new members for counties, two to Westminster, and one to Southwark; to give to Mary bone, Bir, mingham, Manchester, Sheffield, and Leeds, the right of sending two members each to parliament; and also to allow the inhabitants of ten cities and towns, who are now shut out by their respective corposations, the privilege of returning two members each ; bv which measure, it was supposed, about 100,000 voters would be added to the number of electors through the kingdom.
Mr. W. takes this plan for his basis, and attempts only to carry it farther. We will state his improvements in his own words:
• The most obvious and necessary addition to Mr. Pitt's plan is, that it should be extended to the representation of the people of Scotland ; in such a manner as to remove that degrading exception by which fix of the counties of Scotland are reduced to alternate re, presentation; to place Edinburgh and some other principal cities, in respect of their representative importance, on a footing of equality with the great towns of England; and to regulate elections in Scotland by the same general rules to which they are subject in England.
Another necessary addition to that plan seems to be, the extension of the right of suffrage to all decent householders throughout Great Britain.
• By these regulations the following COUNTIES of SCOT,
Mem, in Scoilard,
• The following CITIES and TOWNS of SCOTLAND would receive an addition of SEVEN MEMBERS, viz.
Total Cities and Towns. Members added to Titel Addition. Num. of Mem. Ciries and Towns,
for Ciries and Town
in Scotland, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Paisley, Present number of members 2 for cities and towns,
Total representation of Scotland, 55 • The elections which at present are confined to a few members of a corporation in each of the follo:ving towns of England, by these regulations would become popular elections, viz.
Addition of Constitutional Members by
Popular Elections in four Towns of England. Marlborough, Launceston,
8 Poole, Thetford,
• By these regulations, also, the body of constituents in England, on any reasonable definition of the persons meant by “ decent householders” would receive an addition, probably, not short of 150,000 voters. The same regulacions adding to the present electors in Scotland, freeholders and copyholders of 40 fhillings value, and decent householders, would probably increase the constituent body there by an augmentation of nearly 100,000 voters. The total augmentation of voters by these regulations throughout Great Britain, would be nearly 250,000 additional voters.'
The newest feature in this plan is the extension of the right of voting to all copyholders and decent householders. Mr. W.is aware that it may not be very easy to define the precise meaning of the term decent householders; he throws the idea out for discussion, and thinks that the term might be applied to those who are assessed to the poor's rates, or who pay the window tax.
The plan has at least this merit, that it contains a specific propofition; that its whole extent can be seen at once ; and that nothing treacherous or dangerous lurks behind. The author adds, however, three subsidiary measures which he thinks essential to this reform in Parliament, and which would, no doubt, flow from it, were the reform once carried. These measures are, 1. A reduction of the enor. mous influence of the Crown. 2. The repeal of the feptennial act.
r. It might not be improper, perhaps, to annex to Paisley some of the small unrepresented burghs in its neighbourhood, to take a part in election for representatives of that town. The small share of the representation at present enjoyed by Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Dundee, would devolve upon the other burghs with which they are con. Bected and increase their marę.'.