other subject of equal, if not superior, moment. The question then was, whether Ireland should be governed by the Parliament of another country; and the present is, whether she shall enjoy a Parliament of her own ? As the subject of parliamentary reform is now posted, it is impossible for government to retreat from it. Their declarations the fourth day of the session; the words of the Lord-lieutenant's secretary ; the liberal grants of the House; have established the necessity of acceding to a reform in Parliament, and have sealed the doom of every rotten borough in the kingdom; hence I collect two things; that Parliament should be reformed; that the reform must take place this session. Here let us appeal to gentlemen conversant with the disposition of the people; do not they think so ? Are they not convinced of it; do not they know; have they not declared that their constituents do now expect a reform of Parliament, and that it is a measure not more necessary for their freedom than their felicity ? Having mentioned the state of the question, I will advert to the state of your representation; it is short. Of three hundred members, above two hundred are returned by individuals; from forty to fifty are returned by ten persons ; several of your boroughs have no resident elector at all; some of them have but one; and, on the whole, two-thirds of the representatives in the House of Commons are returned by less than one hundred persons ! This is not that ancient, that venerable constitution of King, Lords, and Commons. It is not even an aristocracy: it is an oligarchy. It is not an oligarchy of property, but of accident; not of prescription, but of innovation. Here, again, I appeal to the conscious conviction of every man who hears me; and I assert two propositions, which can neither be denied nor defended : First, that the majority of the representatives are chosen by individuals; second, that a great proportion of them are afterward endowed by the Crown. And it follows, that, in our present state of representation, the House of Commons cannot be supposed to be the organ of the people.

In defence of such a state, three arguments are advanced : first, its antiquity - antiquity! an establishment you would imagine that took place in Saxon times, in the age of the Confessor, or after the English intercourse with Ireland, at the time of the charter of John, or the reign of Edward : — No! James I. was the King who made above forty of those private boroughs. In the year 1613, the numbers returned to Parliament were two hundred and thirty-two, since which time sixty-eight members have been added, all by the House of Stuart; one by Anne, four by James II., most of the remainder by Charles I., with a view to religious distinctions, and by Charles II. with a view to personal favour. If you look to antiquity, therefore, the boroughs stand on bad ground. The frame of your constitution was twelve counties, established in the reign of King John. Henry VIII. added one; Mary two; and Elizabeth seventeen. Since which time your counties received no addition whatsoever, though between the year 1613 and the present, the borough interest has received an addition of sixty-eight members ; which is more than the whole of the county representation.

The great division on this subject is cities or boroughs, where the grant was to burgesses and freemen indefinite, or to a limited number of burgesses, seldom exceeding twelve, in whom the right of election was confined. The former are boroughs intended to be free, and the latter intended to be otherwise. The number of the former I apprehend to be above forty; and where they have become what we understand to be intended by the word “close boroughs” they have departed from the intention of the grant, and ought, pursuant to the meaning of that grant, to be opened. The other class, which I apprehend to be above forty, are in their origin vicious; it is a monopoly - like any of the other monopolies of James I. ;— a grant, in its nature criminal. Most of the forty boroughs created by James I. were so. It appears from the grants themselves, that they were intended to be private property: they were granted as a personal reward for doing some specified transaction. Such a grant could stand, I apprehend, on no principle whatsoever. These, with those made by Charles I., became a subject of complaint; they were most of them made on the eve of calling a Parliament, and some of them not sealed till after the writs of summons had issued, and were so loudly complained of, that Charles I. had promised to submit a plan to the consideration of Parliament. 'Thus are these two descriptions of boroughs; the one intended to be free by the grant, and rendered close by the proprietor; the other intended to be close by the grant, and rendered vicious by the principles of the law. The first set of boroughs are liable to be questioned for departing from their original purpose, and the last for adhering to it.

Let us compare the state of these boroughs with the principles of the constitution. The principles of the constitution are sacred ; its organization accidental. Are these defensible on the ground of population or property, or population and property mixed ? Population is out of the case; and as to property, we will suppose two hundred members returned by one hundred individuals; what property do the former re


present ? Suppose the property of these individuals is 40001. per annum ; they represent 400,0001., and vote 2,000,000l. taxes on the people. They are two-thirds of the House voting near 2,000,000, and not representing half a million. But if you add what is received back again in place or pension, you will find it comes nearly to this, that the majority tax others and not their constituents. Take it in a stronger light; it is well known that near forty persons are returned by about ten individuals, somewhat more than the sixth of the House of Commons, representing that quantity of property and population. By the old constitution, the constituents paid their representatives; try the present state of representation by that test.

Could the one hundred individuals pay the two hundred members ? Could the ten individuals pay the forty members ? So far from any right on the principle of property to send so many members to Parliament to pay the state, they could not pay the members. The argument, therefore, can stand no examination ; neither the test of property, nor population, nor antiquity; these boroughs have been established by accident, by humour, by ignorance, and by favour, without any regard to property, population, or any one principle of constitution. The second argument in their favour is, that they have worked well; that the constitution has flourished under rotten boroughs. I beg to consider the operations of the constitution on the public welfare and on private property

As to public welfare, I acknowledge many beneficial acts, wholesome regulations, and one great revolution; but may I be suffered to think that the redemption of this country had been more specdily established; the good of this country more uniformly pursued; and with less intervals of inconsistency, if Parliament had been constituted more according to the principles of the constitution? As it is instituted, to me its ordinary operation appears defective, its raptures transitory, and its relapses disgraceful.

You have certain committees, committees of courts of justice; have they acted ? - committees of trade; have they acted ? What was the case of the East India trade ? Committees of grievances; have they acted ? It appears to me that the functions of the House of Commons would be discharged with more benefit to the public, and more honour to itself under a constitution by representation, than a constitution by boroughs. I have had opportunities to speak to the growth of the expenses of government. I have shown, without the possibility of contradiction, that in seven years



you have, in those expenses alone, exceeded your estimates in the sum of 163,0001. I did not form my comparison with the actual expense of 1784; if I had, the excess had been greater, particularly with regard to the civil establishment, which was in the year 1784, 174,0001. and the excess therefore 33,0001., not 17,0001. as the right honourable gentleman was pleased to mention.

But I mentioned a progress of expense still more striking, that since the year 1769, you have increased your annual charge, including debt, more in proportion than Great Britain, notwithstanding American war, and all her armaments. But the evil effects on private fortunes of this species of representation are more sensibly felt, and more readily understood: those who have contested boroughs, those who have repeatedly obtained seats in this House for boroughs, may find in their mortgages an answer to the admirers of the present system. I may aver, without fear of contradiction, that the expenses of election and returns to Parliament are so ruinous, that no private fortune can support them; that the expense for obtaining returns for a borough, except under the gift of a patron, are so great, as no private fortune can sustain—that these expenses increase with the powers of the constitution. I have heard that seats in this House forty years ago were obtained for 6001. I have heard they now cost 30001., and you know these expenses are ultimately paid by the public. Hence arises what we often lamented, the trade of Parliament, a trade in which the dealer does not make 6 per cent. by his money, with all the other sacrifices of honour, &c. I wish to lay the axe at the root of this trade, in which the political morality, as well as the freedom of the country, are intimately concerned. I shall be told there are exceptions to this expense; I feel it; but I feel also that the expense is the rule and the saving an exception. The property of boroughs; the sale of boroughs; the sale of honours; sale of votes, private embarassments, and public servility, all will be corrected by the reform of Parliament, and the constitution, under its defective state, so far from working as well as gentlemen have flattered themselves, has been attended with a growth of public expense, equalled only by an accumulation of private difficulties. The third argument in support of the present system is, that gentlemen cannot agree about a better. If we agree in what we condemn; we cannot well differ in the principle on which we are to reform. We agree, I apprehend, that twelve burgesses should not return two members to serve in Parliament; that is, we agree in the destruction of close boroughs. We agree on the princi

but we

ple which is to conduct your compasses, a mass of propertied people, the precise number only to be a subject of discussion; agree

that we are to look to a mass of people having property. How far we are to go, and what geographical line, whether the circle of county or any lesser circumscription, may be a subject of discussion, but not of discord.

We cannot differ about the propriety of residence; of extending the right of franchise to freemen by birth, marriage, or the exercise of a trade for a certain time. Perhaps we shall not differ on the propriety of extending the right of voting to landholders for years, having a certain valuable interest; an universal registry; elections to be limited in time, and to be carried on in different places at once; an oath to be taken by the candidate, and to be repeated at your bar, by the member,

“ That he has not been at any expense whatsoever, nor paid any sum whatsoever, to procure his return, by himself or others."

These, with some other regulations, when added to an internal reform, which should exclude officers of the revenue, and a long &c. which my friend will explain, and which will reduce the influence by excluding all pensioners for years, and placemen, excepi such as are in higher departments, show, I think, that the subject, however it may have been supposed to be involved in difficulties, yet contains the principles of concord.

These broad principles carried into execution must insure you that constitution, temperate at once and pure, founded on the true principles of property, with population, including what is well understood by the words, “ Constitutional Public,” giving to every farmer a sort of station in his country; and to every landlord an interest to give an encouraging lease. Thus, the reform of Parliament may be a good system of agriculture, as well as of liberty. These principles, I say, carried into execution, may produce that steady calm in the minds of men, which results from the sense of a good constitution, and the benefits of an honest representation; and subordination will be more cheerful, as freedom becomes more universal.

Mr. Grattan then read three resolutions, and moved the first.

Resolved, That the representation of the people is attended with great and heavy charges and payments, in consequence of elections and returns of members to serve in: Parliament, and that said abuses ought to be abolished. Resolved, That of the 300 members elected to serve in

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