« - there is a tide in the affairs of men,

“ Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." Admiral Rodney, at this time, experienced the truth of it. Disagreements and disputes at home, and misconduct of various kinds, had disgusted many of our best officers, and driven them from the service. These circumstances had paved the way for his being employed again. He was immediately appointed to command the fleet going to the West-Indies, and the consequences are too recent to require being here recapitulated.

So remarkable has been the fortune of the gallant admiral, fince he came into employment, that it leaves that of all other officers at a distance. It is peculiar to this commander, that he bas taken three flags, and has atchieved the most brilliant victories which have been gained in the course of the present war. On the late change of ministry he was recalled, and raised to the peerage by the file and title of Baron Rodney, of Stoke Rodney, in the county of Somerset.

A: a Meeting of the CONSTITUTIONAL SOCIETY, held

on Friday, September the 6th, 1782.

[Continued from page 130.] N UR conftitution is of so great antiquity, that there are no

records of its foundation ; and the first historians are only evidences of its existence. But, notwithstanding this obscurity, we may, on a nice inspection, discover the motives that gave rise to some of those wife institutions which secure the people's freedom; and it was, undoubtedly, to guard against such inconve. niencies as I have described, that they referved the right of reelecting their representatives, as often as the executive magistrate should call upon them for fresh supplies or advice ; and by this prudent precaution, they retained the power of rejecting those, who, through a change of circumstances, appeared un. worthy of further confidence, or were even suspected of being under improper influence.

A long neglect of this excellent old custom, has caused the House of Commons to degenerate into a fixed and powerful body, that has so little connection with the people, that it is not, as formerly, a jealous guardian of their property, and per, fonal rights Lt, on the contrary, a dangerous engine of oppresion; and is well known, that the far greater part of


those who compose it, only consult how to render their situation profitable to themselves.

However, notwithstanding the defection is unjustifiable, let us not suppose that in private life they have less virtue than their neighbours. Extending the duration of the House of Commons, first to three, and then to seven years, created a separate interest to your own ; and it required in your representatives extraordinary public spirit, to forbear to take advantage of such a circumstance. Those who have resisted this temptation, certainly merit the warmest approbation ; but we must not reprobate too severely all who have yielded to so powerful a seducer. Self-interest, rightly understood, is an incentive to good actions ; and a well-informed people will never submit to any political establishment, that shall set it at variance with public welfare.

The antient mode of electing representatives annually, made it the interest of each individual to be as just in his public capa. city, as in his private : and only restore that falutary practice, and you will find an upright representative as common a character as a faithful servant in any other relation.

The House of Commons having lost its independency, vari. ous ineffectual laws have been made to regulate parliament, and to prevent bribery and corruption. But when that House, in the case of the Middlesex election, acted unjustly, we sought in vain for some legislative power to correct and over-rule its judge. ments. The only controul the constitution had provided, and the best too that could be devised, was the power of rejecting, at the next summons to parliament, the men who had fo fhamefully abused their trust; and of electing others more wife and honest to reverse that infamous decifion.

The moving principle of our conftitution is annual election. It is the main spring of the political machine: by a seven-fold extenfion, its elastic force has been destroyed ; but only restore it to its due proportion, and you will see it act as vigorously and juftly as ever.

Some have called the power of the legislative body omnipo. tent. The expression is too strong ; but undoubtedly its authority is great ; and the provision made by the constitution againit the abuse of it, can never be fufficiently commended. Perceiving that it was difficult to prescribe bounds to its activity, without detriment to the state, the duration of a part of it was wisely limited in such a manner, that it was diffolved by the operation of time ; and, without the least difor er, every year renewed by the election of a new house of reprentatives. 'The dictatorship at Rome resembled, in some respects, the li. mited authority of the British fenate. For six months the dice: tator was abfolate and uncontroulable ; but his power expired at the end of that term. The perpetual dictatorships of Sylla and Julias Cæsar were violations of justice, and infringements of che conftitution, fimilar to those of our legislature in passing the septennial act; and this modern usurpation will terminate in the same manner, if we, like the degenerate Romans, unmind. ful of the virtue of our ancestors, and the happiness of pofterity, procure not its repeal.


Bat besides the feptennial act, we have another heavy griev. ance to correct. The far greater part of the people being unjuftly deprived of the right of election, loft all infuence in government, and with it, I am sorry to say, too generally all public {pirit. They confidered themselves as individuals who bad no country, and confequently no interest to take care of, but what was, in the ftri&eft fenfe, selfish and partial. This, and the {pirit of rapacity introduced among people in a more elevated ftation by the triennial and septepnial acts, occafioned such a general languor, and indifference in public concerns, that at length the mot virtuous of all characters were treated with ridicule ; and he who had fortitude enough to discover a patriotic spirit, beldes the facrifice of tranquility, and private interest, had, almost without support, to contend with the united force of foolish derifon, malignant calumny, and the rancorous envy of confciQus prostitution!

Such a renunciation of political virtue, was like to produce great disorder ; and, alas ! it is true, that of late years all has been anarchy and confusion. The system of corruption is arrived very near to that period, when an universal despondency may be expected to seize us; and, in that general panic, like the inhabitants of a house in flames, every one will snatch up what he can, and secure a retreat. These are not the effufions of fancy ; they are impartial deductions from undisputed facts ; and he must be inattentive to a superlative degree, that does not discern our awful situation, and the necessity to which we are redaced of adopting some plan of reformation, that will revive, in the heart of every Briton, a love of his country.

When the representation of the boroughs was settled, no care was taken to provide for the alterations that a succession of years might produce ; and, in consequence of that omission, members are now frequently sent by a very few of the inhabitants of a large town ; of ep by places so inconsiderable, that they are either the sole prop Ity of an individual, or fo much under his influence, that they often contain not a single voter who is independent. A gentleman, (Capel Lofft, Esq;] to whom the public is much indebted, as well as this auciety, has lately shewn,


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that forty-eight members are chosen by three hundred and
ninety-four electors, in such boroughs as I have described. It is
difficult to be accurate in a calculation of this kind ; but no
error can be supposed, that in the least affects the argument for
a reform, if we consider that the whole kingdom of Scotland.
fends only forty-five members to parliament ! -Facts like there,
surely need no comment. Is it not the grosseft delusion, and
most poignant insult, to call such a representation the voice of
the people ?

To say that a few may be authorised, by charters or acts of parliament, to exercise this right for the whole, is repugnant to every true principle of policy and justice. The legislature is subordinate to the power that created it, and cannot make a law that will prejudice those rights which that power has rea served.

Besides, to send representatives to parliament being the pecu-' liar privilege of the commons, the peers, who act for themselves, are excluded from interfering in elections; then how can they be parties in making a law that shall alter or take away the right of election ?

To send representatives to parliament, is an undelegated portion of natural liberty in all the commons of Great Britain. It is unconnected with, and totally, independent of, the legislative authority. The legislature was created by an act of love. reignty, issuing from the rights vested by nature in the whole body of the people, and is unalterable by any other power. To each branch it aligned distinct privileges, whose object was the public good: and, by virtue of this all-controuling authority, they became legal rights, for the uses prescribed. To enlarge the bounds of them to the oppression of the people, is a diffolution of the focial compact ; and protection and allegiance being reciprocal, the community, by such acts, is relealed from the obligations to submission.

The alterations made in our government by the inequality of representation, and feptennial parliaments, have induced some to believe that it is in its nature inferior to a republic. But it is an ill-founded opinion ; and, on reflection, we Mall perceive. that great advantages may be derived from three independent powers mutually checking and aiding each other, as the public intereit shall require.

This incomparable fyftem of political jurifdiction unites the energy of an absolute monarchy, with the eps Flity and personal, security of the freeft republic. However, the fuperiority I now ascribe to it, I am sorry to say, is become ideal; and, were it not for the probability of amendment, there would be no great


loks if its form was abolished; for it is so corrupted by innovasions, that it has most of the imperfections of an arbitrary ftate, fithout its vigour and independence.

All ranks, from the king to the meanest subject, are interested is reftoriag the constitution to that perfection we now only admire ; for, when in a state long ased to freedom, the legislative authority is converted into an engine of oppression, or of useless pageantry, the reflecting part of the community become discontented, clamours ensue, and, if one party be indiscreet, and the orher fpirited, these contentions often tcrminate in insurrections, and always in acts of disrespect and ungraciousness, that make both the fovereign and his subjects unhappy. Would to God we had no evidence to justify such an affertion ! Bui, alas ! we have all feen it verified ; and if we continue infatuated, and do not corre& the cause, I fear we shall foon feel it true in its ut. molt extent.

Let not the name of faction frighten you. There are times when the greateft fervice a good citizen can render to the state is to excite apprehenfion. Had our forefathers been dismayed by the inputation of fedition, they would not have left to their defcendents either civil or religious liberty. The evils to be apprehended from inactivity are far greater, and more certain, than any that can arife from an attempt to recover your rights. But Here it otherwise, when the body is attacked by a malignant dis. order, is it not better to take an unpleafant draught, than to perith by the disease ?

We fee, for our encouragement, what Ireland has perfornied, without the least tumult. Do you think chat her brave volunteers could have acquired in their houfes and shops the freedom they now enjoy ? They saw their country reduced to poverty by fabmiffion to an external legislature : they enquired, and found that they had a right to a free conftitution ; and, without refedting on partial inconveniencies, they gallantly refolved to rea daim it. With retrenchments from luxury, they armed to oppose the enemies of Ireland—but virtue lo conspicuous was refpeded, and they found only friends!

What they expended fo honourably, will be paid with tenfold intereft. Prior to this glorious exertion, the poor were idle and licencious ; the trader apprehenfive of bankruptcy; and a rapid decrease in the value of land, and hofpitable and luxurious mangers, caused the nobility and gentry, who were not in the funthine of court svour, to share in the general calamity : in Mort, though nothis g can be conceived more deplorable than their late fatuation, to the astonishment of the world, their commerce is already revived, their credit re-established, and a spirit Vos. I. 7,



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