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ceedings, had the strongest motives to declare Mr. Walpole incapable of being re-elected. They thought such a man unworthy to sit among them. To that point they proceeded, and no farther: for they respected the rights of the people, while they asserteù their own. They did not infer from Mr. Walpole's incapacity, that his opponent was duly elected; on the contrary, they declared Mr. Taylor “not duly elected,” and the election itself void.
Such, however, is the precedent which my honest friend assures us is strictly in point, to prové, that expulsion, of itself, creates an incapacity of being elected. If it had been so, the present House of Commons should at least have followed strictly the example before them, and should have stated to us in the same vote the crimes for which they expelled Mr. Wilkes; whereas, they resolve, simply, that, “ having been expelled, he was and is incapable.” In this proceeding I am authorized to affirm, they have neither statute, nor custom, nor reason, nor one single precedent, to support them. On the other side, there is indeed a precedent so strongly in point, that all the inchanted castles of ministerial magic fall before it. In the year 1698, (a period which the rankest Tory dare not except against,) Mr. Wollaston was expelled, re-elected, and admitted to take his seat in the same parliament. The ministry have precluded themselves from all objections drawn from the cause of his expulsion; for they affirm absolutely, that expulsion, of itself, creates the disability. Now, sir, let sophistry evade, lei falsehood assert, and impudence deny; here stands the precedent, a land-mark to direct us through a troubled sea of controversy, conspicuous and unremoved.
I have dwelt the longer upon the discussion of this point, because, in my opinion, it comprehends the whole question. The rest is unworthy of notice. We
are enquiring, whether incapacity be or be not created by expulsion. In the cases of Bedford and Malden, the incapacity of the persons returned was matter of public notoriety, for it was created by act of parliament. But really, sir, my honest friend's suppositions are as unfavourable to him as his facts. He well knows, that the clergy, besides that they are represented in common with their fellow-subjects, have also a separate parliament of their own; that their incapacity to sit in the House of Commons has been confirmed by repeated decisions of the House; and that the law of parliament, declared by those decisions, has been, for above two centuries, notorious and undisputed. The author is certainly at liberty to fancy cases, and make whatever comparisons he thinks proper; his suppositions still continue as distant from fact, as his wild discourses are from solid argument.
The conclusion of his book is candid to extreme. He offers to grant me all I desire. He thinks he may safely admit, that the case of Mr. Walpole makes directly against him; for it seems he has one grand solution in petto for all difficulties. “If,” says he, “I were to allow all this, it will only prove, that the law of election was different, in Queen Anne's time, from what it is at present."
This, indeed, is more than I expected. The principle, I know, has been maintained in fact; but I never expected to see it so formally declared. What can he mean? Does he assume this language to satisfy the doubts of the people, or does he mean to rouse their indignation? Are the ministry daring enough to affirm, that the House of Commons have a right to make and unmake the law of parliament at their pleasure? Does the law of parliament, which we are so often told is the law of the land does the common right of every subject of the realm, depend upon an arbitrary, capricious vote of one branch of the legislature?-The voice of truth and reason must be silent.
The ministrý tell us plainly, that this is no longer a question of right, but of power and force alone. What was law yesterday, is not law to-day; and now it seems we have no better rule to live by, than the temporary discretion and fluctuating integrity of the House of Commons.
Professions of patriotism are become stale and ridiculous. For my own part, I claim no merit from endeavouring to do a service to my fellow-subjects. I have done it to the best of my understanding; and with out looking for the approbation of other men, my conscience is satisfied. What remains to be done, concerns the collective body of the people; they are now to determine for themselves, whether they will firmly and constitutionally assert their rights, or make an humble, slavish surrender of them at the feet of the ministry. To a generous mind, there cannot be a doubt. We owe it to our ancestors to preserve entire those rights, which they have delivered to our care; we owe it to our posterity, not to suffer their dearest inheritance to be destroyed. But, if it were possible for us to be insensible of these sacred claims, there is yet an obligation binding upon ourselves, from which nothing can acquit us; a personal interest, which we cannot surrender. To alienate even our own rights, would be a crime as much more enormous than suicide, as a life of civil security and freedom is superior to a bare existence; and if life be the bounty of heaven, we scornfully reject the noblest part of the gift, if we consent to surrender that certain rule of living, without which, the condition of human nature is not only miserable, but contemptible.
THE PRINTER OF THE PUBLIC ADVERTISER.
August 22, 1769. I must beg of you to print a few lines, in explanation of some passages in my last letter, which, I see, have been misunderstood.
1. When I said, that the House of Commons never meant to found Mr. Walpole's incapacity on his expulsion only, I meant no more than to deny the general proposition, that expulsion alone creates the incapacity. If there be any thing ambiguous in the expression, I beg leave to explain it, by saying, that, in my opinion, expulsion neither creates, nor in any part contributes to create, the incapacity in question.
2. I carefully avoided entering into the merits of Mr. Walpole's case. I did not enquire, whether the House of Commons acted justly, or whether they truly declared the law of parliament. My remarks went only to their apparent meaning and intention, as it stands declared in their own resolution.
3. I never meant to affirm, that a commitment to the Tower created a disqualification. On the contrary, I considered that idea as an absurdity, into which the ministry must inevitably fall, if they reasoned right upon their own principles.
The case of Mr. Wollaston speaks for itself. The ministry assert, that expulsion alone creates an absolute, complete incapacity to be re-elected to sit in the same parliament. This proposition they have uniformly
maintained, without any condition, or modification whatsoever. Mr. Wollaston was expelled, re-elected, and admitted to take his seat in the same parliament. I leave it to the public to determine, whether this be plain matter of fact, or mere nonsense or declamation.
THE PRINTER OF THE PUBLIC ADVERTISER.
September 4, 1769. ARGUMENT against Fact; or, a new System of Politi
cal Logic, by which the ministry have demonstrated, to the satisfaction of their friends, that expulsion alone creates a complete incapacity to be re-elected; alias, That a subject of this realm may berobbed of his common right by a vote of the House of Commons.
Mr. Wollaston, in 1698, was expelled, re-elected, and admitted to take his seat.
ARGUMENT. As this cannot conveniently be reconciled with our general proposition, it may be necessary to shift our ground, and look back to the cause of Mr. Wollaston's expulsion. From thence it will appear clearly, that, " although he was expelled, he had not rendered himself a culprit too ignominious to sit in parliament; and that, having resigned his employment, he was no longer