Page images

I would readily allow that the calculations made by the gentlemen on the other side were just, and their inierence true; but I am persuaded that neither of these is possible.

As the members of this house generally are, and must always be, gentlemen of fortune and figure in their country, is it possible to suppose that any of ibem could by a pension or a post be influenced to consent to the overthrow of our constitution, by which the enjoyment not only of what he got, but of what he before had, would be rendered altogether precarious ? I will allow, sir, that with respect to bribery, the price must be higher or lower generally in proportion to the virtue of the man who is to be bribed; but it must likewise be granted, that the humour he happens to be in at the time, the spirit he happens to be endowed with, adds a greal deal to his virtue. When no encroachments are made upon the rights of the people, when the people do not think themselves in any danger, there may be many of the electors, who by a bribe of ten guincas might be induced to vote for one cardidate rather than another; but if the court were making any encroachments upon the rights of the people, a proper spirit would without doubt arise in the nation, and in such a case I am persuaded that none, or very few even of such electors, could be induced to vote for a court candidate ; no, not for ten times the sum.

There may, sir, be some bribery and corruption in the nation, I am afraid there will always be some : but it is no proof of it that strangers are sometimes chosen ; for a gentleman may have so much natural influence over a borough in his neighbourhood, as to be able to prevail with them to choose any person he pleases to recommend; and if upon such recommendation they choose one or two of his friends, who are perhaps strangers to them, it is not from thence to be inferred that the two strangers were chosen their representatives by the means of bribery and corruption.

To insinuate, sir, that money may be issued from the public treasure for bribing elections, is really something

very extraordinary, especially in those gentlemen who know how many checks there are upon every shilling that can be issued from thence, and how regularly the money granted in one year for the public service of the nation, must always be accounted for the very next session in this house, and likewise to the other, if they have a mind to call for any such account. And as to the gentlemen in offices, if they have any advantage over coun. try gentlemen in having something else to depend on besides their own private fortunes, they have likewise many disadvantages. They are obliged to live here in London with their families, by which they are put to a much greater expence than gentlemen of equal fortunes who live in the country. This lays them under a very great disadvantage, with respecı to the supporting their interest in the country.

The country gentleman, by living among the electors, and purchasing the necessaries for his family from them, keeps up an acquaintance and correspondence with them, without putting himself to any extraordinary charge; whereas a gentleman who lives in London, has no other way of keeping up an acquaintance or correspondence among his friends in the country, but by going down once or twice a year at a very extraordinary charge, and often without any other business; so that we may conclude a gentleman in office cannot, even in seven years, save much for distributing in ready money, at the time of an election; and I really believe, if the fact were narrowly inquired into, it would appear that the gentlemen in office are as little guilty of bribing their electors with ready money, as any other set of gentlemen in the kingdom.

That there are ferments often raised among the people without any just cause, is what I am surprised to hear controvertid, since very late experience may convince us of the contrary, Do not we know what a ferment was raised in the nation towards the latter end of the late queen's reign? and it is well known what a fatal change in the affairs of this nation was introduced, or at least confirmed, by an election coming on while the nation was in that ferment. Do not we know what a ferment was raised in the nation soon after his late majesty's accession ? And if an election had then been allowed to come on while the nation was in that ferment, it might perhaps have had as fatal effects as the former ; but thank God this was wisely provided against by the very law which is now wanted to be repealed.

It has indeed, sir, been said, that the chief motive for enacting that law now no longer exists. I cannot admit that the motive they mean was the chief motive, but even that motive is very far from having entirely ceased. Can gentlemen imagine, that in the spirit raised in the nation but about a twelvemonth since, jacobitism and disaffection to the present government had no share? Perhaps some who might wish well to the present establishment did co-operate, nay, I do not know but they were the first movers of that spirit; but it cannot be supposed that the spirit then raised should have grown up to such a ferment merely from a proposition which was honestly and fairly laid before a parliament, and left entirely to their determination. No, sir, the spirit was perhaps begun by those who are truly friends to the illustrious family we have now upon the throne; but it was raised to a much greater height than I believe ever they de. signed, by jacobites, and such as are enemies to our present establishment, who though they never had a fairer opportunity of bringing about what they have so long and so unsuccessfully wished for, than that which had been furnished them by those who first raised that spirit. I hope the people have now in a great measure come to themselves, and therefore I doubt not but the next elections will shew that when they are left to judge coolly, they can distinguish between the real and the pretended friends to the government. But I must say, if the ferment then raised in the nation had not greatly subsided, I should have thought a new election a very dangerous experiment; and as such ferments may hereafter often happen, I must think that frequent elections will always be dangerous: for which reason, in so far as I can see at present, I shall I believe at all times think it a very dangerous experiment to repeal the septennial bill.


The eldest Son of Sir T. Lyttleton.)

Was born 1709, and died 1773. He distinguished himself both as a

speaker and a writer. He appears (as far as I can understand,) to have been one of those men, who gain a high reputation not so much by deserving, as by desiring it ; who are constantly going out of their way in search of fame, and therefore can scarcely miss it ; who are led to seize on the shewy and superficial parts of science by an instinct of vanity, as the surest means of attracting vulgar applause ; who by aiming at what is beyond them. do at Icast all that they are capable of; whose anxiety to distinguish themselves from others, serves them in the place of genius ; and who obtain the good opinion of the public merely by shewing their deference to it. This character, it must be confessed, however, is generally united with sensibility and an elegant turn of mind, and is therefore entitled to some credit ; for next to the possession of real excellence, I think we ought to respect the admiration of it, and the wish to possess it, or whatever in our power comes the nearest to it.

Mr. Lyttleton's Speech on the Prince's Marriage.

Mr. Speaker, Though I have nothing to add to what has been said so well by other gentlemen, on this happy and agreeable occasion, yet as I think that nobody should be silent on a point to which nobody can be indifferent, I beg to be indulged in a few words, to declare with how muck pleasure I concur in the motion that has been made you. And indeed he must be void of all affection to the safety,


peace, and liberty of his country, who does not rejoice in the increase of the royal family, on the support and continuance of which among us, all those blessings immediately depend. But, sir, there is yet another reason

. for our joy on this occasion, a reason, which every gentleman that hears me, will allow to be a strong one :I mean a particular regard to the happiness of the prince, which can no more be separated from our duty to his majesty, than the interests or inclinations of so good a father from those of so dutiful a son.

There may be something in the dignity of persons raised very high above the rank of other men, which might set them at perhaps too great a distance from the love of their inferiors, and make us often participate no farther in their pleasures or their pains than duty or interest requires. But he, who in a station thus exalted above the wants and miseries of mankind, can feel them with the tenderness of an equal, while he relieves them with the beneficence of a superior ; whose heart is as open to the sentiments of humanity and benevolence, as his mind to the impressions of truth and justice ; such a prince, in all the incidents of life, will find every body sympathize with himself; his grief will be a national afflic. tion, his joy the joy of a whole people.

Sir, it is right and decent, and agreeable to our inclinations, to ascribe every thing that is done for the public good to the paternal cares and goodness of the king; but in this instance it is peculiarly our duiy for this is a merit which must belong to him alone : in this, none of his servants can have a share. The most assuining minister could lay no claim to it; it is his own act, to hiin we are obliged for it, and to him our acknowledgments are due. He has hcard the wishes of his people, who foresaw the dangers they were exposed to, if his royal highness by marrying too late in life, should, according to the ordinary course of nature, leave an heir to the crown in a minority-a minority, which is always a state of weakness, distraction, and oppression; a minority, the

« PreviousContinue »