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reign is a man of high spirit and dangerous ambition, ready to take advantage of the treachery of his parliament, ready to accept of the surrender they made him of the public liberty; or he is a mild, undesigning prince, who, provided they indulge him with a little state and pageantry, would of himself intend no mischief. On the first supposition, it must soon be decided by the sword, whether the constitution should be lost, or preserved. On the second, a prince, no way qualified for the execution of a great and hazardous enterprize, and without any determined object in view, may nevertheless be driven into such desperate measures, as may lead directly to his ruin, or disgrace himself by a shameful fluctuation between the extreines of violence at one moment, and timidity at another. The minister, perhaps, may have reason to be satisfied with the success of the present hour, and with the profits of his employment. He is the tenant of the day, and has no interest in the inheritance. The sovereign himself is bound by other obligations; and ought to look forward to a superior, a permanent interest. His paternal tenderness should remind him how many hostages he has given to society. The ties of nature come powerfully in aid of oaths and protestations. The father, who considers his own precarious state of health, and the possible hazard of a long minority, will wish to see the family estate free and unencumbered *. . What is the dignity of the crown, though it were really maintained; what is the honour of parliament, supposing it could exist without any foundation of integrity and justice; or what is the vajn reputation of firmness, even if the scheme of the government were uniform and consistent, compared with the heart-felt affections of the people, with the happiness and security of the royal family, and even with the grateful acclamations of the populace? Whatever style of contempt may be adopted by ministers, or parliaments, no man sincerely despises the voice of the English nation. The House of Commons are only interpreters, whose duty it is to convey the sense of the people faithfully to the crown. If the interpretation be false, or imperfect, the constituent powers are called upon to deliver their own sentiments. Their speech is rude, but intelligible; their gestures fierce, but full of explanation. Perplexed by sophistries, their honest eloquence rises into action. Their first appeal was to the integrity of their representatives; the second, to the king's justice; the last argument of the people, whenever they have recourse to it, will carry more, perhaps, than persuasion to parliament, or supplication to the throne.
* Every true friend of the house of Brunswick sees, with affliction, how rapidly some of the principal branches of the family have dropped off.
THE PRINTER OF THE PUBLIC ADVERTISER.
May 28, 1770. WHILE parliament was sitting, it would neither have been safe, nor perhaps quite regular, to offer any opinion to the public upon the justice, or wisdom,
of their proceedings. To pronounce fairly upon their conduct, it was necessary to wait until we could consis der, in one view, the beginning, progress, and conclusion of their deliberations. The cause of the public was undertaken and supported by men, whose abilities and united authority, to say nothing of the advana tageous ground they stood on, might well be thought sufficient to determine a popular question in favour of the people. Neither was the House of Commons so absolutely engaged in defence of the ministry, or even of their own resolutions, but that they might have paid some decent regard to the known disposition of their constituents; and without any dishonour to their firin, ness, might have retracted an opinion too hastily adopted, when they saw the alarm it had created, and how strongly it was opposed by the general sense of the nation. The ministry too would have consulted their own immediate interest, in making some concession satisfactory to the moderate part of the people. Without tonching the fact, they might have consented to guard against, or give up the dangerous principle on which it, was established. In this state of things, I think it was highly improbable, at the beginning of the session, that the complaints of the people, upon a matter which, in their apprehension at least, immediately affected the life of the constitution, would be treated with as much contempt by their own representatives, and by the House of Lords, as they had been by the other branch of the legislature. Despairing of their integrity, we had a right to expect something from their prudence, and some thing from their fears. The Duke of Grafton certainly did not foresee to what an extent the corruption of a parliament might be carried. He thought, perhaps, that there still was some portion of shame, or virtue, left in the majority of the House of Commons, op
that there was a line in public prostitution beyond which they would scruple to proceed. Had the young man been a little more practised in the world, or had he ventured to measure the characters of other men by his own, he would not have been so easily discouraged.
The prorogation of parliament naturally calls upon us to review their proceedings, and to consider the condi- tion in which they have left the kingdom. I do not question but they have done what is usually called the king's business, much to bis majesty's satisfaction. We have only to lament, that, in consequence of a system introduced, or revived, in the present reign, this kind of merit should be very consistent with the neglect of every duty they owe to the nation. The interval between the opening of the last, and close of the former session, was longer than usual. Whatever were the views of the minister in deferring the meeting of parliament, sufficient time was certainly given to every member of the House of Commons, to look back upon the steps he had taken, and the consequences they had produced. The zeal of party, the violence of personal animosities, and the heat of contention, had leisure to subside. From that period, whatever resolution they took was deliberate and prepense. In the preceding session, the dependents of the ministry had affected to believe, that the final determination of the question would have satisfied the nation, or at least put a stop to their complaints; as if the certainty of an evil could diminish the sense of it, or the nature of injustice could be altered by decision. But they found the people of England were in a temper very distant from submission; and although it was contended, that the House of Commons could not themselves reverse a resolution, which had the force and effect of a judicial sentence, there were other constitu
tional expedients, which would have given a security against any similar attempts for the future. The general proposition, in which the whole country had an interest, might have been reduced to a particular fact, in which Mr. Wilkes and Mr. Luttrell would alone have been concerned. The House of Lords might interpose; the king might dissolve the parliament; or, if every other resource failed, there still lay a grand constitutional writ of error, in behalf of the people, from the decision of one court to the wisdom of the whole legislature. Every one of these remedies has been successively attempted. The people performed their part with dignity, spirit, and perseverance. For many months his majesty heard nothing from his people but the language of complaint and resentment; unhappily for this country, it was the daily triumph of his courtiers, that he heard it with an indifference approaching to contempt.
The House of Commons having assumed a power unknown to the constitution, were determined not merely to support it in the single instance in question, but to maintain the doctrine in its utmost extent, and to establish the fact as a precedent in law, to be applied in whatever manner his majesty's servants should hereafter think fit. Their proceedings upon this occasion are a strong proof that a decision, in the first instance illegal and unjust, can only be supported by a continuation of falsehood and injustice.' To support their former resolutions, they were obliged to violate some of the best known and established rules of the House. In one instance, they went so far as to declare, in open defiance of truth and common sense, that it was not the rule of the House to divide a complicated question at the request of a member*. But, after trampling upon the
* This extravagant resolution appears in the votes of the House; but in the minutes of the committees, the instances of resolutions