« AnteriorContinuar »
power, they are always working and intriguing against those that are in, without any regard to justice, or to the interest of their country: in popular governments such men have too much game; they have too many opportunities for working upon and corrupting the minds of the people, in order to give them a bad impression of, and to raise discontents against those, that have the management of the public affairs for the time; and these discontents often break out into seditions and insurrections. This, Sir, would in my opinion be our misfortune, if our Parliaments were either annual or triennial : by such frequent elections, there would be se much power thrown into the hands of the people, as would destroy that equal mixture, which is the beauty of our constitution: in short, our government would really become a democratical government, and might thence very probably diverge into a tyrannical. Therefore, in order to preserve our constitution, in order to prevent our falling under tyranny and arbitrary power, we ought to preserve that law, which I really think has brought our constitution to a more equal mixture, and consequently to greater perfection than it was ever in, before that law took place.
As to bribery and corruption, Sir, if it were possible to influence, by such base means, the majority of the electors of Great Britain, to choose such men as would probably give up their liberties; if it were possible to influence, by such means, a majority of the members of this House, to consent to the establishment of arbitrary power ; I would readily allow that the calculations made by the gentlemen of the other side were just, and their inference true: but I am persuaded, that neither of these is possible. As the members of this House generally are, and must always be, gentlemen of fortune and figure in their country, is it possible to sup
any of them could, by a pension or a post, be influenced to consent to the overthrow of our constitution; by which the enjoyment, not only of what he got, but of what he before had, would be rendered altogether precarious ? I will allow, Sir, that, with respect to bribery, the price must be higher or lower, generally in proportion to the virtue of the man who is to be bribed; but it must likewise be granted, that the humour he happens to be in at the time, the spirit he happens to be endowed with, adds a great deal to
his virtue. When no encroachments are made upon the. rights of the people, when the people do not think themselves in any danger, there may be many of the electors, who by a bribe of ten guineas might be induced to vote for one candidate rather than another; but if the court were making any encroachments upon the rights of the people, a proper spirit would, without doubt, arise in the nation, and in such a case, I am persuaded, that none, or very few, even of such electors, could be induced to vote for a court candidate; no, not for ten times the sum.
There may, Sir, be some bribery and corruption in the nation;
I am afraid there will always be some: but it is no proof of it, that strangers are sometimes chosen ; for
have so much natural influence over a borough in his neighbourhood, as to be able to prevail with them to choose any person he pleases to recommend; and if upon such recommendation they choose one or two of his friends, who are perbaps strangers to them, it is not thence to be inferred, that the two strangers were chosen their representatives by the means of bribery and corruption.
To insinuate, Sir, that money may be issued from the public treasury, for bribing elections, is really something very extraordinary, especially in those gentlemen who know how
many checks are upon every shilling that can be issued from thence; and how regularly the money granted in one year for the public service of the nation must always be accounted for, the very next session, in this House, and likewise in the other, if they have a mind to call for any such account. And as to the gentlemen in offices, if they have any advantage over country gentlemen, in having something else to depend on beside their own private fortunes, they have likewise many disadvantages; they are obliged to live at London with their families, by which they are put to a much greater expense, than gentlemen of equal fortunes, who live in the country: this lays them under a very great disadvantage with respect to the supporting their interest in the country. The country gentleman, by living among the electors, and purchasing the necessaries for bis family from them, keeps up an acquaintance and correspondence with them, without putting himself to any extraordinary charge ; whereas a gentleman who lives in London has no other way of
keeping up an acquaintance or correspondence among his friends in the country, but by going down once or twice a year at a very extraordinary charge, and often without any other business ;- so that we may conclude, a gentleman in office cannot, even in seven years, save much for distributing in ready money at the time of an election ; and I really believe, if the fact were narrowly inquired into, it would appear that the gentlemen in office are as little guilty of bribing their electors with ready money, as any other set of gentlemen in. the kingdom.
That there are ferments. often raising among the people without any just cause is what I am surprised to hear controverted, since very late experience may convince us of the contrary. Do not we know what a ferment was raised in the nation toward the latter end of the late Queen's reigu? And it is well known, what a fatal change in the affairs of this nation was introduced, or at least confirmed, by an election's coming on while the nation was in that ferment. Do not we know what a ferment was raised in the nation soon after his 'late Majesty's.accession ? And if- an election. had then been allowed to come on, while the nation was in that ferment, it might perhaps have had as fatal effects as the former ; but, thank God, this was wisely provided against by the very law, which is now wanted to be repealed.
As such ferments may hereafter often happen, I must think, that frequent elections will always be dangerous ; for: which reason, as far as I can see at present, I shall, I believe, at all times think it a very dangerous experiment to, repeal the septennial bill,
LORD LYTTLETON'S SPEECH ON THE REPEAL OF THE
ACT CALLED THE JEW BILL, IN THE YEAR 1753.
MR. SPEAKER, I see no occasion to enter at present into the merits of the. bill we passed the last session for the naturalization of Jews ; because I am convinced, that, in the present temper of the
THE SPEECH OF BRUTUS ON THE DEATH OF CÆSAR.
Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my cause; and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge. If there be
in this assembly, any dear friend of Cæsar's, to him I say, that Brutus's love to Cæsar was no less than his. If then that friend demand, why Brutus rose against Cæsar, this is my answer: Not that I loved Cæsar less, but that I loved Rome more.
you rather Cæsar were living, and die all slaves ; than that Cæsar were dead, to live all freemen? As Cæsar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but as he was ambitious, I slew him. There are tears for his love, joy for his fortune, honour for his valour, and death for his ambition. Who's here so base, that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who's here so rude, that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who's here so vile, that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended.— I pause for a reply.
None? then none have I offended I have done no more to Cæsar, than you should do to Brutus. The question of his death is enrolled in the Capitol : his glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy; nor his offences enforced, for which he suffered death.
Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony; who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the commonwealth ; as which of you shall not ? With this I depart, that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.
GLOCESTER'S SPEECH TO THE NOBLES.
Brave Peers of England, pillars of the state,
Receiv'd deep scars in France and Normandy?