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advised; for his measures will always have a greater weight, both at home and abroad, the more generally he refers himself to the opinion of his people.
A farther mischief of long parliaments is, that a mi. nister has time and opportunities of getting acquaintance with members, of practising his several arts to win them into his schemes; but this must be the work of time ; cor. ruption is of so base a nature, that at first sight it is ex. tremely shocking. Hardly any one has submitted to it all at once; his disposition must be previously understood, the particular bait must be found out with which he is to be allured, and after all, it is not without many struggles that he surrenders his virtue. Indeed there are some who will at once plunge themselves over head and ears into any base action; but the generality of mankind are of a more cautious nature, and will proceed only by leisurely degrees. One or two perhaps have deserted their colours the first campaign; some have done it a second: but a great many, who have not that eager disposition to vice, will not wait till a third.
For this reason, short parliaments have been less cor. tupt than long ones ; they are observed, like streams of water, always to grow more impure, the greater distance they run from the fountain hrad.
I am aware it may be said that frequent new parlia. ments will produce frequent new expences; but I think quite the contrary, I am really of opinion, that it will be a proper remedy against the evil of bribery at elections; especially as you have provided so wholesome a law to co-operate upon those occasions
As to bribery at elections, whence did it arise ? Not from country gentlemen, for they are sure of being chosen without it. It was the invention of wicked and corrupt ministers, who have from time to time led weak princes into such destructrive measures, that they did not dare to rely upon the natural representation of the people. Long parliaments first introduced bribery, because they vere worth purchasing at any rate. Country gentlemen,
who have only their private fortunes to rely upon, and have no mercenary ends to serve, are unable to oppose it, especially if at any time the public treasure shall be unfaithfully squandered away to corrupt their boroughs. Country gentlemen indeed may make some weak efforts, but as they generally prove unsuccessful, and the time of a fresh struggle is at so great a distance, they at last grow faint in the dispute, give up their country for lost, and retire in despair. Despair naturally produces indolence, and that is the proper disposition for slavery. Ministers of state understand this very well, and are therefore unwilling to awaken the nation out of its lethar. gy by frequent elections. They know that the spirit of liberty, like every other virtue of the mind, is to be kept alive only by constant action; that it is impossible to enslave this nation whilst it is perpetually upon its guard. Let country gentlemen, then, by having frequent oppor. tunities of exerting themselves, be kept warm and active in their contention for the public good. This will raise that zeal and indignation which will at last get the better of that undue influence by which the officers of the crown, though unknown to the several boroughs, have been able to supplant country gentlemen of great characters and fortune, who live in their neighbourhood. I don't say this upon idle speculation only; I live in a country where it is 100 well known; and I will appeal to many gentlemen in the house, to more out of it (and who are so for this very reason,) for the truth of my assertion. It is a sore which has been long eating into the most vital part of our constitution, and I hope the time will come when you will probe it to the bottom. For if a minister should ever gain a corrupt familiarity with our boroughs; if he should keep a register of them in his closet, and by sending down his treasury mandates should procure a spurious representation of the people, the offspring of his corruption, who will be at all tiines ready to reconcile and justify the most contradictory measures of his ad. ministration, and even to vote every crude indigested
dream of their patron into a law; if the maintenance of his power should become the sole object of their attention, and they should be guilty of the most violent breach of parliamentary trust, by giving the king a discretionary liberty of taxing the people without limitation or control, the last fatal compliment they can pay to the crown; if this should ever be the unhappy cir. cumstance of this nation, the people indeed may complain, but the doors of that place where their complaints should be heard, will for ever be shut against them.
The power of the crown is very justly apprehended to be growing to a monstrous, I should have said, toe great a size, and several methods have been unsuccess. fully proposed for restraining it within its proper bounds,
But our disease, I fear, is, of a complicated nature, and I think that this motion is wisely intended to remove the first and principal disorder. Give the people their ancient right of frequent new elections, that will restore the decayed authority of parliaments, and will put our constitution into a natural condition of working out her own cure.
Upon the whole, I am of opinion, that I cannot ex. press a greater zeal for his majesty, for the liberties of the people, or the honour and dignity of this house, thar by seconding the motion which the honourable gentleman has made you.
SIR WATKIN WILLIAM WYNNE,
Was member for Denbighshire. It cannot be denied that the follotr.
ing speech is a real and close examination of the question.
Sir Watkin William Wynne's Speech on the same.
I am surprised to hear it insinuated by the honourable gentleman who spoke last, as if the motion now before us was made with a view to distress his majesty's government, or to disturb the peace of the nation. Such an insínuation is really not treating the gentlemen who have spoke in favour of the motion with that candour which one gentleman has reason to expect from another in this house, nor indeed can I look upon it as any compliment made to his majesty or his government. It is not to be doubted, but that his majesty, in all the measures he pursues, looks a little further than this house. It is not to be questioned but that his majesty looks for the approbation of the generality of his people, as well as the majority of his parliament ; and while his measures are approved of by the generality of his people, frequent elections cannot surely bring any distress upon his government, but will greatly strengthen it, by shewing frequently to his majesty and to the whole world, the true sense of the generality of the people. As to the peace of the nation, we know by experience, that it was as well preserved by triennial parliaments as ever it was by septennial ; so that the agreeing to this motion cannot disturb the peace, but the rejecting it may very probably have such an effect: for the generality of the people so earnestly desire to have triennial parlia, ments restored to them, that the refusing to comply with
their desire cannot but increase the number of the disaffected, which may at last throw all things into confusion, and may perhaps destroy that establishment to which we owe every thing that is dear to us.
I shall readily grant, sir, that ever since we have had septennial parliaments, our elections have been generally attended with distractions and confusion; but I cannot allow that this would be the case if our elections were annual, or even triennial. They would then be carried on with much less heat and animosity ; for every man knows that the disturbances about elections have been much greater since the septennial bill took place than ever they were before ; and I would gladly ask gentle. men, if before that time it was ever known that the solicitations and contentions about elections began two years before the choosing of a new parliament, which is known to be the case at present over the whole kingdom, and which must always necessarily be the case; it being natural for men to contend with more vigour and with more heat for a post eiiher of honour or profit, that is to be enjoyed for seven years, than for one that is to be enjoyed but for one, or for three.
Then, sir, as to bribery and corruption at elections, I am sure it has very much increased since the septennial law took place. It is a natural consequence of length.
a ening the time of a parliament's continuance, a consequence so natural, that I am surprised to find it so much mistaken, as it seems to be by some gentlemen who have spoken on the other side of the question. It is certain, sir, that bribery will never be made use of at any election, but by a man who has not a sufficient natural inte. rest in the place where he declares himself a candidate, and by such we may expect it will always be made use of, as far as it can be done with safety, if the candidate has but the least hopes of succeeding by such dishonourable means.
Where there happens a competition, every clector has a natural bias to vote for one man rather than another, and every elector will vote according to his na