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please, and it is impossible, to know when the parliamentary standard is exceeded, and when not. Thus therefore stands our account: In the first place the public is to pay eighteen thousand men; in the next place the number of effective men is to be sixteen thousand three hundred forty-seven, and if those are not suffi. cient to exercise dominion over us, yet in the manner they are kept together, they are equivalent to twentyfive thousand men ; the charge is inconsiderably less, and the terror, which is the main thing, is not at all abated.
For the taking this dangerous step, the only justification I hear gentlemen offer for themselves, the only shelter they fy to, is the great confidence which is to be reposed in his majesty's just and gracious intentions. Of those I will entertain no doubt; I believe his majesty is too good to be suspected of any arbitrary designs. But yet there is a general suspicion which I will never be ashamed or afraid to own, because it is a suspicion interwoven in our constitution; it is à suspicion upon which our laws, our parliament, and every part of our government is founded : which is, that too much power lodged in the crown, abstracting from the person that wears it, will at some time or other be abused in the excrcise of it, and can never long consist with the natural rights and liberties of mankind. And therefore, whatever opinions we have of his majesty's goodness, and how much soever he deserves them, we should still consider, that in this place we are under a distinct duty to our country ; and by that duty we should be as incapable of giving up such an unwarrantable trust, as his majesty, I am persuaded, would be incapable of abusing it, if he had it in his hands. Those we represent will expect, and they ought to expect from us, that they should not only continue to enjoy what belongs to them as Englishmen, but that they should hold it still by the same tenure : their estates, their lives, and their liberties, they have hitherto possessed as their rights, and it would be a very great and sad change, Vol. I.
and such as shall never have my consent along with it, to make them only tenants at will for them.
MR. (afterwards SIR) ROBERT WALPOLE, Was born at Houghton, in Norfolk, in 1674, and died in 1745. In
1700, he was chosen member of parliament for Lynn. In 1705, he was appointed secretary at war; and in 1709, treasurer of the navy ; but, on the change of ministers, he was voted guilty of corruption, and expelled the house. The whig party strenuously supported him ; and he was re-elected for Lynn, though the eleciion was declared void. At the accession of George I. he was made paymaster of the forces; but two years after he resigned, and joined the opposition. Another change taking place in 1725, he took the lead in administration, being chosen first lord of the treasury, and chancellor of the exchequer. He maintained himself in this situation till 1742, when he resigned, and was created earl of Oxford, with a pension of 4,000l. a year.
Sir Robert Walpole ENDEAVOURBD to confute all that had been offered in favour of this bill :* he took notice, that among the Ro. mans, the wisest people upon earth, the temple of fame was placed behind the temple of virtue, to denote that there was no coming to the former without going through the other ; but that if this bill passed into a law, one of the most powerful incentives to virtue would be taken away, since there would be no coming to honour, but through the winding sheet of an old decrepit lord, and the grave of an extinct noble family ; that it was matter of just surprise, that a bill of this nature should either have been projected, or at least promoted, by a gentleman who, not long ago, sate amongst them, (meaning lord Stanhope,) and who having got into the house of peers, would now shut up the door after him: that this bill would not only be a discouragement to
Bill to limit the number of Peers
virtue and merit, but also endanger our excellent con. stitution ; for as there was a due balance between the three branches of the legislature, if any more weight were thrown into any one of those branches, it would destroy that balance, and consequently subvert the whole constitution : that the peers were already possessed of
many valuable privileges, and to give them more power and authority, by limiting their number, would, in time, bring back the commons into the state of the servile dependency they were in when they wore the badges of the lords ; that he could not but wonder, that the lords would send such a bill to the commons ; for how could they expect that the commons would give their concurrence to so injurious a law, by which they and their posterities are to be excluded from the peerage ? and how would the lords receive a bill by which it should be enacted, that a baron should not be made a viscount, nor a viscount be made an earl, and so on? That besides all this, that part of the bill which related to the peerage of Scotland, would be a manifest viola. tion of the act of union, on the part of England, and a dishonourable breach of trust, in those who repre. sented the Scots nobility ; that such an infringement of the union would endanger the entire dissolution of it, by disgusting so great a number of the Scots peers as should be excluded from sitting in the British parliament ; for as it was well known, that the revolution set. tlement stood upon the principle of a mutual compact, if we should first break the articles of union, it would be natural for the Scots to think themselves thereby freed from all allegiance; and as for what had been suggested, that the election of the sixteen Scots peers was no less expensive to the crown, than injurious to the peerage of Scotland ; it might be answered, that the making twenty-five hereditary sitting Scots peers, would still increase the discontents of the electing peers, who thereby would be cut off from a valuable consi. deration, for not being chosen.
(Bishop of Rochester,)
Was born in 1662. His eloquence brought him carly into notice.
His political principles were very violent, and engaged him in several controversies. He assisted Dr, Sacheverel in drawing up his defence. When the rebellion broke out in 1715, he and bishop Smalridge refused to sign the Declaration of the bishops; and in 1722 he was apprehended and committed to the Tower, on suspicion of being concerned in some plot to bring in the Pretender. He was sentenced to be banished for life, and left the kingdom in 1723. He died at Paris in 1732. He is now chiefly remembered as an elegant writer, and as the intimate friend of Pope and Swift. The following is the conclusion of his defence before the house of lords,
I shall now consider the improbability, as well as inconsistency of the charge brought against me without positive proof. You will allow me to answer the indictment in the same manner it is laid.
Is it probable, that if I were engaged in any such de. sign, no footsteps should be seen of any correspondence I had with the late duke of Ormond, to whom, of all persons abroad, I was best known, and to whom I had the greatest regard, and still have all the regard that is consistent with my duty to my king and country?
Is it probable that I would chuse rather to engage in such a design with Mr. Dillon, a military man I never saw, and with the earl of Mar, whom I never conversed with, except when he was secretary of state ?
Did I not know, what all the world thinks, that he had left the pretender several years, and had a pension abroad ? is this a season for me to enter into conferences with him about restoring the pretender ? and to do this not by messages, but by letters, not sent by messengers,
but by the common post? That by thus writing to him by the post, I should advise him after the same manner to write to me; and by these means furnish opportunities towards detecting the persons and bringing myself into danger ? How doth that consist with the caution and secrecy which are said to belong to me ? Must not I have been rash to have laid myself open in such a manner ? This is an inconsistent scheme, the other a boid assertion. Is it probable, when attending the sick bed of my wife, and expecting her death, not daily, but hourly, that I should enter into negotiations of this kind ?
There was no need of despatching any of those three letters, merely to excuse my not writing ; the circumstances of my family had been a sufficient apology, and more effectual.
Is it probable, that when I was carrying on public buildings of various kinds at Westminster, and Bromley, consulting all the books from the Wesminster Founda. tion, engaging in a correspondence with learned men, about settling an important point of divinity, at that very time I should be carrying on a conspiracy? Those that entertain such thoughts without reason, may also condemn me without argument.
Is it probable, that I should meet and consult, in order to carry on and forward this correspondence, with no body, and no where?
That I, who always lived at home, and except at dinner time never stirred out of my chamber, received all persons that visited me, and was denied to none, should have an opportunity to be so engaged ? And if I had, that none of my domestics and friends should ever observe any appearance of any such thing? No evidence among my papers, though they were all scized at both my houses, and confining all my servants but one, for about ten or eleven weeks, searching him twice in the tower, and searching myself, nothing of consequence appears, nor is there any one living witness that charges me with any thing that is really true.