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proper to be done, that alone does not convey an authority to do it. As to the present case, I hope I shall never see the time, when not only a single person, but a whole county, and in effect the entire collective body of the people, may again be robbed of their birth-right by à vote of the House of Commons. But if, for reasons which I am unable to comprehend, it be necessary to trust that House with a power so exorbitant and unconstitutional, at least let it be given to them by an act of the legislature.

Philo JUNius.

LETTER XVIII:

TO

SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, SOLICITOR-GENERAL

TO HER MAJESTY.

SIR,

July 29, 1769. I SHALL make you no apology for considering a certain pamphlet, in which your late conduct is defended, as written by yourself. The personal interest, the personal resentments, and, above all, that wounded spirit, unaccustomed to reproach, and, I hope, not frequently conscious of deserving it, are signals which betray the author to us, as plainly as if your name were in the title page. You appeal to the public in defence of your reputation. We hold it, sir, that an injury offered to an individual is interesting to society. On this principle the people of England made common cause with Mr. Wilkes. On this principle, if you are injured, they will join in your resentment. I shall not follow you through the insipid form of a third person, but address myself to you directly.

You seem to think the channel of a pamphlet more Tespectable, and better suited to the dignity of your cause, than that of a newspaper. Be it so. Yet, if newspapers are scurrilous, you must confess they are impartial. They give us, without any apparent preference, the wit and argument of the ministry, as well as the abusive dulness of the opposition. The scales are equally poised. It is not the printer's fault, if the greater weight inclines the balance.

Your pamphlet, then, is divided into an attack upon Mr. Grenville's character, and a defence of your own. It would have been more consistent, perhaps, with your professed intention, to have confined yourself to the last. But anger has some claim to indulgence, and railing is usually a relief to the mind. I hope you have found benefit from the experiment. It is not my design to enter into a formal vindication of Mr. Grenville, upon his own principles. I have neither the honour of being personally known to him, nor do I pretend to be completely master of all the facts. I need not run the risk of doing an injustice to his opinions, or to his conduct, when your pamphlet alone carries, upon the face of it, a full vindication of both.

Your first reflection is, that Mr. Grenville* was, of all men, the person who should not have complained of inconsistence with regard to Mr. Wilkes. This, sir, is either an unmeaning sneer, a peevish expression of resentment, or, if it means any thing, you plainly beg the question; for, whether his parliamentary conduct with

* Mr. Grenville had quoted a passage from the doctor's excellent Commentaries, which directly contradicted the doctrine maintained by the doctor in the House of Commons.

regard to Mr. Wilkes has, or has not been inconsistent, remains yet to be proved. But it seems he received upon the spot a sufficient chastisement for exercising so unfairly his talents of misrepresentation. You are a lawyer, sir, and know better than I do, upon what particular occasions a talent for misrepresentation may be fairly exerted; but, to punish a man a second time, when be has been once sufficiently chastised, is rather too severe. It is not in the laws of England; it is not in your own Commentaries; nor is it yet, I believe, in the new law

you

have revealed to the House of Commons. I hope this doctrine has no existence but in your own heart. After all, sir, if you had consulted that sober diseretion, which you seem to oppose with triumph to the honest jollity of a tavern, it might have occurred to you that, although you could have succeeded in fixing a charge of inconsistence upon Mr. Grenville, it would not have tended in any shape to exculpate yourself.

Your next insinuation, that Sir William Meredith had hastily adopted the false glosses of his new ally, is of the same sort with the first. It conveys a sneer as little worthy of the gravity of your character, as it is useless to your defence. It is of little moment to the public to inquire, by whom the charge was conceived, or by whom it was adopted. The only question we ask is, whether or no it be true. The remainder of your reflections upon Mr. Grenville's conduct destroy themselves. He could not possibly come prepared to traduce your integrity to the House. He could not foresee, that you would even speak upon the question; much less could he foresee, that you would maintain a direct contradiction of that doctrine, which you had solemnly, disinterestedly, and upon soberest reflection, delivered to the public. He came armed indeed with what he thought a respectable authority, to support what he was convinced was the cause of truth; and I doubt not he intended to give you, in the course of the debate, an honourable and public testimony of his esteem. Thinking highly of his abilities, I cannot, however, allow him the gift of divination. As to what you are pleased to call a plan coolly formed to impose upon the House of Commons, and his producing it without provocation at midnight, I consider it as the language of pique and invective, therefore unworthy of regard. But, sir, I am sensible I have followed your example too long, and wandered from the point.

The quotation from your Commentaries is matter of record. It can neither be altered by your friends, nor misrepresented by your enemies; and I am willing to take your own word for what you have said in the House of Commons. If there be a real difference between what you have written and what you have spoken, you confess that your book ought to be the standard, , Now, sir, if words mean any thing, I apprehend, that, when a long enumeration of disqualifications (whether by statute or the custom of parliament) concludes with these general comprehensive words, “ but, subject to these restrictions and disqualifications, every subject of the realm is eligible of common right,” a reader of plain understanding must of course rest satisfied, that no spe. cies of disqualification whatsoever had been omitted. The known character of the author, and the apparent accuracy with which the whole work is compiled, would confirm him in his opinion; nor could he possibly form any other judgment, without looking upon your Com- . mentaries in the same light in which you consider those penal laws, which, though not repealed, are fallen into disuse, and are now, in effect, a snare to the unwary*.

* If, in stating the law upon any point, a judge deliberately affirms, that he has included every case, and it should appear that he has purposely omitted a material case, he does, in effect, lay a snare for the upwary.

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