worth? Can any one imagine, the difference is owing to any thing but our trade and manufactures ?-The intereft of merchants is fo much the intereft of the nation, that there can hardly be too many merchants in parliament. The London members almost always vote on the fide of liberty. It is objected, that each merchant will probably vote in parliament for what is most for the advantage of his own particular branch. True. Therefore let a confiderable number of merchants always have feats in the house, and then all different interests will be confulted. It has likewife been argued, that merchants are bad members, because they are liable to be influenced in favour of the court by government contracts. But here again comes in my obfervation concerning partial reformations. Correct the other abufes, and court influence will become impoffible.-As to the monied intereft, if the public debts are not to be paid, or fome fubftantial fecurity found for them, it would be very proper that the monied intereft (as fuch) fhould have reprefentation in parliament. Elfe, what fecurity have we that a profligate court will not fhut up the Exchequer, as Charles II. did, and obtain by corrupt means the fanction of parliament for the measure? It is indeed alledged, that the mercantile, manufactural, and monied interefts are represented by the members for the cities and boroughs. But this is nothing to the purpose; because the qualification required is always to be in land.'

On this fubject of inadequate reprefentation, our Author is led to reprehend one of our moft eminent law-writers, who notwithstanding his great knowledge and abilities, has in fome inftances exposed himself to deferved cenfure. If therefore,' it is obferved, Judge Blackftone did, at the time he wrote the 172d page of the firft vol. of his Commentaries, recollect the miferable ftate of reprefentation in our times, it is inconceivable how he could bring himself to write as he has done. "Only fuch are entirely excluded from voting for members," fays he, "as can have no will of their own" (meaning poor and dependent people without property)." There is hardly a free agent to be found, but what is entitled to a vote in fome place or other in the kingdom." Did the learned Judge confider, what he him felf has obferved, that the borough-members are four times as numerous as the county-members; that a few thoufand of electors fend in the majority of the house; that in many places a handful of beggars fends in as many members as the great and rich county of York, or city of Briftol? Did the learned Judge confider these shocking abfurdities, and monftrous difproportions, or did he confider the alarming influence the court has in parliament, when he wrote what follows, viz. "If any alteration might be wilhed, or fuggefted in the prefent frame of parliament,

I 3

liament, it should be in favour of a more complete reprefentation of the people?" What, are we to be put off with a cold If in a cafe where our country lies bleeding to death?" If any alteration might be wifhed"-Let us go on then, and fay, If the deliverance of ourselves and our pofterity from destruction might be wifhed; if any alteration of what might bring us to ruin might be wifhed-any alteration from a mockery rather than the reality of reprefentation,-any alteration from 300 placemen and penfioners fitting in the house of commons,-any alteration from a corrupt court's commanding the majority of the elections into the house, and of the votes, when in it,-any alteration from the parliament's becoming a mere outwork of the court-If it is, at last to be doubted, whether the saving of our country is to be wifhed, what muft become of us? Had a hackneyed court-hireling written in this manner, it had been no matter of wonder. But if the most intelligent men in the nation are to endeavour to perfuade the people that there is hardly room for a wish, that there is fcarce any thing capable of alteration for the better, (the Judge's four volumes are a continued panegyric) at the very time when there is hardly any thing in the condition it ought to be in, at the time when we have upon us every symptom of a declining ftate, when we are finking in a bottomlefs gulph of debt and corruption, the spirit of the conflitution gone, the foundations of public fecurity fhaken, and the whole fabric ready to come down in ruins on our heads, -if they who ought to be the watchmen of the public weal are thus to damp all propofals for redrefs of grievances-Qua res fumma laco? In what condition is this once free and vir tuous kingdom likely foon to be?'

Poffibly our Author may be thought, by fome, to bear rather too hard on the learned civilian, as to the particular paffages which are here cited, though there are others which no doubt give occafion for rebuke; efpecially as he appears to acknowledge, very coolly indeed, that fome alteration might be made for the better; and he is fpeaking perhaps of original conftitutions, and not so much of the prefent corruption and abuse of them. However, it is not generally to be expected, or is perhaps feldom found, that gentlemen of the law are thorough friends to liberty; they are fo confined by the forms and rules of their profeffion, and fometimes it may be by other confiderations, that they do not examine always according to the direc tion of reafon and humanity: though as men of learning, and of fenfe and virtue, they ought to be fuperior to thefe fhackles.

From this Writer's arguments for fhortening the duration of parliaments, let us infert the following lines: Length of parliament deftroys all refponfibility, makes our delegates our mafers, and erects them into an auguft affembly, whom we must


not approach but in the humble guife of petition.-With what honeft views can the court defire long parliaments? Parliamentary flavery is flower, but furer, than quo warrantos, and the other oppreffive acts of tyranny, which alarm the people, and defeat themfelves.-All wife nations, and all good princes, have approved of frequent meetings with their parliaments and diets. Our Edwards and Henries often put a stop to the course of their victories to meet parliament. The Spaniards were peculiarly cautious about the frequency of their state meetings.In France, under Clovis, Pepin, Charlemagne, Capet, and his fucceffors for ages, the meetings of the ftates were cherished. Lewis XI. and moft of his fucceffors, have promoted a contrary scheme of government without the people. The confequences have been continual infurrections, tumults, and leagues. The length of parliaments dejects the fpirits of the few patriots who are still left. At the fitting down of a new parliament, they lofe all hope of redrefs for many years; and the depreffion of their courage is the triumph of the court, and gives them opportunity for rivetting the chain-Walpole, A. D. 1735, when the house was moved about fhortening parliaments, faid, It would be dangerous; for that it would make the government democratical, by giving factious men too much game to play. This was truly Walpolian, that is, jefuitical. In whofe hands ought the power to be? In thofe of a corrupt court? Will it be fafer there than in the hands of the original proprictors, I mean the people? Is the court likely to confult the people's interest with more diligence and fidelity than the people themselves? The court may be rich, though thè nation be ruined. But if the nation be ruined, what is to become of the people?

In the fame chapter our Author reafons in this manner: Many writers lay great ftrefs on I know not what imaginary danger from unbalancing the power of the three eftates. For my part, I own I am fo dull, that I can fee but one danger refpecting the interior of the kingdom, viz. the danger of the people's being enslaved by the fervants of the crown. Suppofe the power of King and Lords diminished to what degree the Reader pleases; if the people of property in general were free and happy, could the King and Lords be unhappy? Would the King and the Lords have juft reafon to complain if they were happy? Does any friend to his fellow-creatures with the King' and Lords to poffefs power for any other purpofe than the general happiness? Can we not imagine a ftate, in which the people. might be very happy, in which King and Lords poffeffed much lefs power than they do in this country? Can we not imagine a very happy state, in which there was neither King nor Lords? What is the neceffity of a check on the power of the Commons by King and Lords? Is there any fear, that the Commons be

I 4


too free to confult the general good? Muft the reprefentatives of the people be checked and clogged in promoting the interest of their conftituents? If there be not fome neceffity for this, (which to me seems as rational as to fay, there ought to be a check to prevent individuals from being too healthy, or too virtuous) I cannot fee the folidity of that reasoning which lays fo great ftrefs on the neceffity of a balance, or equality of power among the three eftates, or indeed (fpeculatively or theoretically fpeaking) of a neceffity of any more flates than one, viz. an adequate representation of the people, unchecked and uninfluenced by any thing but the common intereft; and that they appoint refponfible men for the execution of the laws made by them with the general approbation. Yet fome writers of no fmall note affect to regret the fuppofed weakness of the Crown and houfe of Lords, when fet against the Commons, because the latter commands the purfe. "The King's legiflative power, fays my efteemed friend Mr. Hume, is no check to that of the Commons." And why, I pray you, should it be a check? Again, "Though the King has a negative in the paffing of Jaws, yet this, in fact, is efteemed of fo little moment, that whatever is voted by the two houses is fure to be passed into a law, and the royal affent is little better than a mere form." What would this gentleman have? Ought a King, a fingle individual, or a handful of lords, to have the power of flopping the bufinefs of the whole British empire according to their caprice, or their interested views, whofe intereft may often be imagined (by themselves at leaft) to lie very wide of the general weal? I can fee very clearly the ufe of a check on the power of a King or Lords; but I own I have no conception of the advantage of a check on the power of the people, or their incorrupt or unbiaffed reprefentatives. The fame eminent writer feems to think a certain competent degree of court-influence by offices neceffary. For my part, I look on every degree, great or small, of minifterial power in parliament as a deadly poison in the vitals of the conftitution, which must bring on its deftruction."

If any part of the above paragraph favours of republican principles, we muft ftill remember this Writer's declaration, already quoted, in favour of our British conftitution. An avowed enemy indeed he is to ministerial influence; and perfons who coolly confider the fituation of things among us at this day, will no doubt fee

it. Could there is fufficient reafon to fear and complain of

it. Could there be found a man, or a fet of men, who were perfectly wife and good, almoft any form of government might be directed to render a people happy. But in the present ftate


Queen Elizabeth rejected 40 bills, and King William IH, one, if not more, m



of mankind, where human weakness and frailty muft, in one way or another, discover itfelf, we cannot but regard the Englifh conftitution, when rightly modified and managed, as bearing the most favourable afpect toward the public welfare.

The oppofers of annual parliaments,' adds our politician, fay, every thing will be fluctuating under them, and no nation will treat with you; no war can be profecuted with fuccess, &c. Have they then forgot, that the treaties of Bretigny and Troyes were concluded, and the victories of Crecy and Agincourt gained, under the auspices of annual parliaments? On the contrary, "it is thought by many, (fays the author of Pref. to Fragm. Polyb.) that the feptennial act, A. D. 1716, was the fevereft ftab the liberties of the people of England ever received.”— Politicians have laid down for a maxim, that if kings were republican in their measures of administration, subjects would be royalifts in their obedience. Our kings have it in their own abfolute power to do the nation a prodigious fervice. The King can diffolve every parliament at the end of the firft feffion; which would make parliaments annual. But this would be applying prerogative to the advantage of the people; where kings generally think it is intended for their advantage, and to keep the people down.The mere reducing of parliaments to triennial, is furely a very partial correction. It is only stopping one leak in ten. For fuppofing parliaments were triennial, fo long as a few thoufands (inttead of many hundred thoufands) have the power of fending in a majority of the house, it will be in the power of the Treafury to influence elections. And fo long as there is no penalty for fitting in the house of commons, and, at the fame time, enjoying a place, or penfion, fo long there will be danger, left the votes of the members be influenced by a corrupt court. And fo long as the fame individuals may be returned again and again, without neceffity of exclufion by rotation, fo long it will be worth the minifter's while to influence them, and worth their while to bribe their electors. But if parliaments were annual with exclufion by rotation, if the power of electing were equally diftributed, as it ought to be, among men of property, fo that no one member could be elected by fewer than a majority of 800 votes; and if no member could hold a place, or penfion, while he fat in the house of commons, under a fevere penalty-if all thefe reftorations of the conftitution were brought about, I will engage, that court-influence in parliament shall be impaffible."


Without farther remarks, we fhall only add a few lines from the conclufion of the volume.


From a due confideration of what this first volume alone exhibits, which is but a fmall part of the public abuses of the times, every thoughtful reader will fee great reafon for fears and


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