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been injured. Even the best of princes may at last discover, that this is a contention, in which every thing may be lost, but nothing can be gained : and as you became minister by accident, were adopted without choice, trusted without confidence, and continued without favour, be assured, that, whenever an occasion presses, you will be discarded without even the forms of regret. You will then have reason to be thankful, if you are permitted to retire to that seat of learning, which, in contemplation of the system of your life, the comparative purity of your manners with those of their high steward, and a thousand other recommending circumstances, has chosen you to encourage the growing virtue of their youth, and to preside over their education. Whenever the spirit of distributing prebends and bishoprics shall have departed from you, you will find that learned seminary perfectly recovered from the delirium of an installation, and, what in truth it ought to be, once more a peaceful scene of slumber and thoughtless meditation. The venerable tutors of the university will no longer distress your modesty, by proposing you for a pattern to their pupils. The learned dulness of declamation will be silent; and even the venal muse, though happiest in fiction, will forget your virtues. Yet, for the benefit of the succeeding age, I could wish that your retreat might be deferred, until your morals shall happily be ripened to that maturity of corruption, at which the worst examples cease to be contagious.

JUNIUS.

LETTER XVI.

TO

THE PRINTER OF THE PUBLIC ADVERTISER.

SIR,

July 19, 1769. A GREAT deal of useless argument might have been saved, in the political contest which has arisen from the expulsion of Mr. Wilkes, and the subsequent appointinent of Mr. Luttrell, if the question had been once stated with precision, to the satisfaction of each party, and clearly understood by them both. But in this, as în almost every other dispute, it usually happens, that much time is lost in referring to a multitude of cases and precedents, which prove nothing to the purpose; or in maintaining propositions, which are either not disputed, or, whether they be admitted or denied, are entirely indifferent as to the matter in debate; until at last the mind, perplexed and confounded with the endless subtleties of controversy, loses sight of the main question, and never arrives at truth. Both parties in the dispute are apt enough to practise these dishonest artifices. The man, who is conscious of the weakness of his cause, is interested in concealing it: and, on the other side, it is not uncommon to see a good cause mangled by advocates who do not know the real strength of it. I should be glad to know, for instance, to what pur

present case, so many precedents have been produced to prove, That the House of Commons have a right to expel one of their own members; that it belongs to them to judge of the validity of elections; or

pose, in the

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that the law of parliament is part of the law of the land * After all these propositions are admitted, Mr. Luttrell's right to his seat will continue to be just as disputable as it was before. Not one of them is at present in agitation. Let it be admitted, that the House of Commons were authorised to expel Mr. Wilkes, that they are the proper court to judge of elections, and that the law of parliament is binding upon the people; still it remains to be inquired, whether the House, by their resolution in favour of Mr. Luttrell, have or have not truly declared that law? To facilitate this inquiry, I would have the question cleared of all foreign or indifferent matter. The following state of it will probably be thought a fair one by both parties; and then I imagine there is no gentleman in this country, who will not be capable of forming a judicious and true opinion upon it. I take the question to be strictly this: “Whether or no it be the known, established law of parliament, that the expulsion of a member of the House of Commons of itself creates in him such an incapacity to be re-elected, that, at a subsequent election, any votes given to him are null and void; and that any other candidate, who, except the person expelled, has the greatest number of votes, ought to be the sitting member.

To prove that the affirmative is the law of parliament, I apprehend it is not sufficient for the present House of Commons to declare it to be so. We

may

shut our eyes indeed to the dangerous consequences of suffering one branch of the legislature to declare new laws, without argument or example, and it may perhaps be prudent enough to submit to authority; but a mere as

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The reader will observe, that these admissions are made, not as of truths unquestionable, but for the sake of argunient, and in order to bring the real question to issue.

sertion will never convince, much less will it be thought reasonable to prove the right by the fact itself. The ministry have not yet pretended to such a tyranny over our minds. To support the affirmative fairly, it will either be necessary to produce some statute, in which that positive position shall have been made, that specific disability clearly created, and the consequences of it declared; or, if there be no such statute, the custom of parliament must then be referred to, and some case or cases *, strictly in point, must be produced, with the decision of the court upon them; for I readily admit, that the custom of parliament, once clearly proved, is equally binding with the common and statute law.

The consideration of what may be reasonable or unreasonable, makes no part of this question. We are inquiring what the law is, not what it ought'lo be. Reason may be applied to shew the impropriety or expedience of a law; but we must have either statute or pre-. cedent to prove the existence of it. At the same time, I do not mean to admit, that the late resolution of the House of Commons is defensible on general principles of reason, any more than in law. This is not the hinge on which the debate turns.

Supposing, therefore, that I have laid down an accurate state of the question, I will venture to affirm, Ist, That there is no statute existing, by which that specific disability which we speak of is created. If there be, let it be produced. The argument will then be at

an end.

2dly, That there is no precedent, in all the proceedings of the House of Commons, which comes entirely home to the present case, viz. “ Where an expelled

* Precedents, in opposition to principles, have little weight with Junius; but he thought it necessary to meet the ministry upon their own ground.

member has been returned again, and another candidate, with an inferior number of yotes, has been declared the sitting member.” If there be such a precedent, let it be given to us plainly, and I am sure it will have more weight than all the cunning arguments which have been drawn from inferences and probabilities.

The ministry, in that laborious pamphlet, which, I presume, contains the whole strength of the party, have declared *,“ That Mr. Walpole’s was the first and only instance, in which the electors of any county or borough had returned a person expelled, to serve in the same parliament:”. It is not possible to conceive a case more exactly in point. Mr. Walpole was expelled; and, ha. ving a majority of yotes at the next election, was returned again. The friends of Mr. Taylor, a candidate set up by the ministry, petitioned the House, that he might be the sitting member. Thus far the circumstances tally exactly, except that our House of Commons saved Mr. Luttrell the trouble of petitioning. The point of law, however, was the same. It came regularly before the House, and it was their business to deterinine upon it. They did determine it; for they declared Mr. Taylor not duly elected. If it be said, that they meant thiş resolution as matter of favour and indulgence to the borough, which had retorted Mr. Walpole upon them, in order that the burgesses, knowing what the law was, might correct their error, I answer,

I. That it is a strange way of arguing, to oppose a supposition, which no man can prove to a fact, which proves itself.

II. That if this were the intention of the House of Commons, it must have defeated itself. The burgesses of Lynn could never have known their error, much less

* “ Case of the Middlesex Election considered," p. 38.

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