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power again provokes our resentment, or some
great calamity again alarms our fears, or perhaps “ till the acquisition of a pure and equal representa“ tion by other countries, whilst we are mocked with “ the shadow, kindles our shame.” To this he subjoins a note in these words.
“A representa" tion chosen chiefly by the treasury, and a few “ thousands of the dregs of the people, who are
generally paid for their votes.”
You will smile here at the consistency of those democratists, who, when they are not on their guard, treat the humbler part of the community with the greatest contempt, whilst, at the same time, they pretend to make them the depositories of all power. It would require a long discourse to point out to you the many fallacies that lurk in the gencrality and equivocal nature of the terms
inadequate representation.” I shall only say here, in justice to that old fashioned constitution, under which we have long prospered, that our representation has been found perfectly adequate to all the purposes for which a representation of the people can be desired or devised. I defy the enemics of our constitution to show the contrary. To detail the particulars in which it is found so well to promote its ends, would demand a trcatise on our practical constitution. I state here the doctrine of the revolutionists, only that you and • others may see, what an opinion thesc gentlemen
entertain of the constitution of their country, and why they seem to think that some great abuse of power, or some great calamity, as giving a chance for the blessing of a constitution according to their ideas, would be much palliated to their feelings; you see why they are so much enamoured of your fair and equal representation, which being once obtained, the same effects might follow. You see they consider our house of commons as only “ a “ semblance," "a form,”
a form," "a theory,” “a sha“ dow” “a mockery,” perhaps “ a nuisance.”
These gentlemen value themselves on being systematick; and not without reason. They must therefore look on this gross and palpable defect of representation, this fundamental grievance (so they call it) as a thing not only vicious in itself, but as rendering our whole government absolutely illegitimate, and not at all better than a downright usurpation. Another revolution to get rid of this illegitimate and usurped government, would of course be perfectly justifiable, if not absolutely necessary. Indeed their principle, if
observe it with any attention, goes much further than to an alteration in the election of the house of commons; for, if popular representation, or choice, is necessary to the legitimacy of all government, the house of lords is, at one stroke, bastardized and corrupted in blood. That house is no representative of the people at all, even in "semblance or
" in form.” The case of the crown is altogether
In vain the crown may endeavour to screen itself against these gentlemen by the authority of the establishment made on the revolution, The revolution which is resorted to for a title, on their system, wants a title itself. The revolution is built, according to their theory, upon a basis not more soļid than our present formalities, as it was made by a house of lords, not representing any one but themselves; and by a house of commons exactly such as the present, that is, as they term it, by a mere “shadow and mockery” of representation,
Something they must destroy, or they seem to themselves to exist for no purpose. One set is for destroying the civil power through the ecclesiastical; another for demolishing the ecclesiastick through the civil. They are aware that the worst consequences might happen to the publick in accomplishing this double ruin of church and state; but they are so heated with their theories, that they give more than hints, that this ruin, with all the mischiefs that must lead to it and attend it, and which to themselves appear quite certain, would not be unacceptable to them, or very remote from their wishes. A man amongst them of great authority, and certainly of great talents, speaking of a supposed alliance between church and sta e, says, "perhaps we must wait for the fall
of the civil powers before this most unnatural “ « alliance be broken. Calamitous no doubt will " that time be. But what convulsion in the po“ litical world ought to be a subject of lamenta" tion, if it be attended with so desirable an “ effect?” You see with what a steady eye these gentlemen are prepared to view the greatest calamities which can befall their country.
It is no wonder therefore, that with these ideas of every thing in their constitution and government at home, either in church or state, as illegitimate and usurped, or, at best as a vain mockery, they look abroad with an eager and passionate enthusiasm. Whilst they are possessed by these notions, it is vain to talk to them of the practice of their ancestors, the fundamental laws of their country, the fixed form of a constitution, whose merits are confirmed by the solid test of long experience, and an encreasing publick strength and national prosperity. They despise experience as the wisdom of unlettered men; and as for the rest, they have wrought under-ground a mine that will blow up at one grand explosion all examples of antiquity, all precedents, charters, and acts of parliament. They have “ the rights of men.” Against these there can be no prescription ; against these no argument is binding: these admit no temperament, and no compromise: any thing withheld from their full demand is so much of fraud and
injustice. Against these their rights of men let no government look for security in the length of its continuance, or in the justice and lenity of its administration. The objections of these speculatists, if its forms do not quadrate with their theories, are as valid against such an old and beneficent government as against the most violent tyranny, or the greenest usurpation. They are always at issue with governments, nut on a question of abuse, but a question of competency, and a question of title. I have nothing to say to the clumsy subtilty of their political metaphysicks. Let them be their amusement in the schools. "Illa se jactat in aula
olus, et clauso ventorum carcere regnet.”—But let them not break prison to burst like a Levanter, to sweep the earth with their hurricane, and to break up the fountains of the great deep to over. whelm us.
Far am I from denying in theory; full as far is my heart from withholding in practice (if I were of power to give or to withhold) the real rights of men. In denying their false claims of right, I do not mean to injure those which are real, and are such as their pretended rights would totally destroy. If civil society be made for the advantage of man, all the advantages for which it is made become his right. It is an institution of beneficence; and law itself is only beneficence acting by a rule. Men have a right to live by that rule;