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But what resemblance can imagination conceive between one man vacating his seat, by a mark of favour from the crown, and another driven from it for sedition and obscenity? The acceptance of a place contaminates no character; the crown that gives it, intends to give with it always dignity, sometimes authority. The Commons, it is well known, think not worse of themselves or others for their offices of profit; yet profit implies temptation, and may expose a representative to the suspicion of his constituents; though if they still think him worthy of their confidence, they may again elect him.
Such is the consequence. When a man is dismissed by law to his constituents, with new trust and new dignity, they may, if they think him incorruptible, restore him to his seat; what can follow, therefore, but that when the House drives out a varlet with publick infamy, he goes away with the like permission to return ?
If infatuation be, as the proverb tells us, the forerunner of destruction, how near must be the ruin of a nation that can be incited against its governours, by sophistry like this. I may be excused if I catch the panick, and join my groans at this alarming crisis, with the general lamentation of weeping patriots.
Another objection is, that the Commons, by pronouncing the sentence of disqualification, make a law, and take upon themselves the power of the whole legislature. Many quotations are then produced to prove that the House of Commons can make no laws.
Three Three Acts have been cited, disabling members for different terms on different occasions; and it is profoundly remarked, that if the Commons could by their own privilege have made a disqualification, their jealousy of their privileges would never have admitted the concurrent sanction of the other powers. '
I must for ever remind these puny controvertists, that those Acts are laws of permanent obligation: that two of them are now in force, and that the other expired only when it had fulfilled its end. Such Jaws the Commons cannot make; they could, perhaps, have determined for themselves, that they would expel all who should not take the test, but they could leave no authority behind them, that should oblige the next parliament to expel them. They could refuse the South Sea directors, but they could not entail the refusal. They can disqualify by vote, but not by law; they cannot know that the sentence of disqualification pronounced to-day may not become void to-morrow, by the dissolution of their own House. Yet while the same parliament sits, the disqualification continues unless the vote be rescinded, and while it so continues, makes the votes, which freeholders may give to the interdicted candidate, useless and dead, since there cannot exist with respect to the same subject at the same time, an absolute power to choose and an absolute power to reject.
In 1614, the attorney-general was voted incapable of a seat in the House of Commons; and the pation is triumphantly told, that though the vote never was revoked, the attorney-general is now a Vol. VIII.
member member. He certainly may now be a member without revocation of the vote. A law is of perpetual obligation, but a vote is nothing when the voters are gone. A law is a compact reciprocally made by the legislative powers, and therefore not to be abrogated but by all the parties. A vote is simply a resolution, which binds only him that is willing to be bound.
I have thus punctiliously and minutely pursued this disquisition, because I suspect that these reasoners, whose business is to deceive others, have sometimes deceived themselves, and I am willing to free them from their embarrassment, though I do not expect much gratitude for my kindness.
Other objections are yet remaining, for of political objections there cannot easily be an end. It has been observed, that vice is no proper cause of expulsion, for if the worst man in the House were always to be expelled, in time none would be left, But no man is expelled for being worst, he is expelled for being enormously bad; his conduct is compared, not with that of others, but with the rule of action,
The punishment of expulsion being in its own nature uncertain, may be too great or too little for the fault.
This must be the case of many punishments, Forfeiture of chattels is nothing to him that has no possessions. Exile itself may be accidentally a good : and indeed any punishment less than death is very different to different men.
But if this precedent be admitted and established, no man can hereafter be sure that he shall be re,
presented by him whom he would choose. One half of the House may meet early in the morning, and snatch an opportunity to expel the other, and the greater part of the nation may by this stratagem be without its lawful representatives.
He that sees all this, sees very far. But I can tell him of greater evils yet behind. There is one possibility of wickedness, which, at this alarming crisis, has not yet been mentioned. Every one knows the malice, the subtilty, the industry, the vigilance, and the greediness of the Scots. The Scotch members are about the number sufficient to make a house. I proposé it to the consideration of the supporters of the Bill of Rights, whether there is not reason to suspect, that these hungry intruders from the North are now contriving to expel all the English. We may then curse the hour in which it was determined, that expulsion and exclusion are the same. For who can guess what may be done when the Scots have the whole House to themselves ?
Thus agreeable to custom and reason, not withstanding all objections, real or imaginary ; thus consistent with the practice of former times, and thus consequential to the original principles of go. vernment, is that decision by which so much violence of discontent has been excited, which has been so dolorously bewailed, and so outrageously resented.
Let us however not be seduced to put too much confidence in justice or in truth; they have often been found inactive in their own defence, and give more confidence than help to their friends and their advocates. It may perhaps be prudent to make one
momentary concession to falsehood, by supposing the vote in Mr. Lutterel's favour to be wrong.
All wrong ought to be rectified. If Mr. Wilkes is deprived of a lawful seat, both he and his electors have reason to complain : but it will not be easily found, why, among the innumerable wrongs of which a great part of mankind are hourly camplaining, the whole care of the publick should be transferred to Mr. Wilkes and the freeholders of Middlesex, who might all sink into nonexistence, without any other effect, than that there would be room made for a new rabble, and a new retailer of sedition and obscenity. The cause of our country would suffer little; the rabble, wliencesoever they come, will be always patriots, and always supporters of the Bill of Rights.
The House of Commons decides the disputes arising from elections. Was it ever supposed, that in all cases their decisions were right? Every man whose lawful election is defeated, is equally wronged with Mr. Wilkes, and his constituents feel their disappointment with no less anguish than the freeholders of Middlesex. These decisions have often been apparently partial, and sometimes tyrannically oppressive. A majority has been given to a favourite candidate, by expunging votes which had always been allowed, and which therefore had the authority by which all votes are given, that of custom uninterrupted. When the Cominons determine who shall be constituents, they may, with some propriety, be said to make law, because those determinations have hitherto, for the sake of quiet, been adopted by succeeding parliaments. A vote there