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the state, and presents to the eyes of the subject no other object for his obedience, no other executive power, no other fountain of justice, except the king; if there is any thing in these regularities, superiorities, and jurisdictions, or in the authority usurped and exercised in imitation of these, by the chief of the clans, which in any degree interposes itself between the crown and the people, between the head of the commonwealth and the mem. bers, however the influence of such irregular powers may have been used on a late occasion, there is, in the powers themselves, a root of danger, which it becomes the prudence and feresight of a wise legislature not to allow to continue any longer : sir, it should be plucked up, not with a rough and violent, but with a firm and a determined hand. Of this I am sure, that it is more for the honour of government, more for the welfare and safety of the people, to see effects in their causes, and to destroy the seeds of future commotions, than to wait till they come to that fatal maturity, which, at the same time that it renders the evil more apparent, may disable the legislature from effe cting the cure.
I remember a fine panegyric made by my lord Bacon, on the laws of Henry IV.“ His laws,” says this wise historian, were deep, and not vulgar; not made upon the spur of particular occasion for the present, but out of providence for the future, to make the estate of his peo. ple more and more happy.” All these admirable words may, with great justice and truth, be applied to the bill now under your consideration. It was the policy of king Henry IV. to break the power of the barons, and to deliver the people from the yoke of that power as much as he could; and to the consequential effects of that policy, rightly pursued by some of his successors, upon the foundations he had laid, is owing the commerce, the wealth, and the liberty that the nation enjoys to this day.
Sir, I have heard in this debate, with no little surprise, an imagination thrown out by some gentlemen,
zealous for liberty, as if the purchasing of these juris. dictions and superiorities out of the hands of the present possessors, and restoring them to the crown, would be very detrimental to public freedom.
Sir, I have read a good deal upon the nature of government, and from the result of that application, I believe, I may venture to lay it down as a maxim, that in every kingdom, where great powers (especially if judi.. cature) are lodged in the hands of particular subjects independently of the crown, it is for the good of the people that they should be taken out of those hands and lodged in the crown. The contest, in that case, is not, as the gentlemen seem to apprehend, between the crown on one side, and the people on the other, but between the crown and the people united together in one common cause, against the interest of those, in whom powers of that nature are rested; which is an interest distinct from both, and hurtful to both. In other words, Mr. Speaker, it is not a dispute between liberty and prerogative, but between oppression and government. This is so true, that in no one of the several Gothic constitutons established in Europe, did the people ever attain to any considerable share of wealth, or freedom, till they had been emancipated from such jurisdictions, ard till all the other powers of the great feudal lords, those petty tyrants, too potent for subjects, too weak for sovereigns, strong enough to oppress, but unable to protect, were entirely absorbed in the more beneficial and salutary power of the crown. Indeed, sir, in every limited monarchy that is on the principles of a free government, which has a king at the head of it, the power of the crown, when acting within its due bounds, properly restrained and confined by law, and by parliament, is the authority of the whole commonwealth.
It is not an interest set up in the king against that of his people : no, the power of the crown is only a name for the executive part of the government; it is the vigour and energy of the whole state, that acts for the benefit Vol. I.
of all its members : though, in the language of the law, the exertion of it is called, the act of the crown; this is particularly true in matters of judicature, and the admi. nistration of justice ; the exercising of these is a power which it is so much the interest of the whole commonwealth to place in the crown, that when a king divests himself of it, or gives up any part of it, he so far withdraws the protection he owes to his subjects, and loosens the bond of their fealty and allegiance. Will you not hear my cause, (said a suitor for justice to Philip of Macedon,) then be no longer my king. Philip admitted the force of his reasoning, and confirmed him still a subject by hearing his cause. If he had referred him to a great lord, to an hereditary judge, the man would have taken that lord, that judge, for his king. It is in the dispensing of justice, in the protecting of right, and redressing of wrongs, that the royal authority best appears to the subject. This view of it excites his veneration and love; but when any part of the people do not see their sovereign in this amiable character, they are too apt to forget him, and turn their eyes and affeetions another way. On these principles the wisdom of our con. stitution has made all jurisdiction immediately flow from the crown; extend that wisdom to Scotland, let nonc be exercised in the most distant corner of these regal dominions, where insurmountable difficulties do not prevent an alteration, otherwise than in the name of the king, and by virtue of his commission.
This is an eternal maxim of policy ; it is not now taken up from any sudden heat or resentment, but upon cool and mature deliberation ; let it not be laid down, because of any sudden heat or resentment arising against it without a reasonable cause; such resentment cannot be lasting, time and experience will certainly overcome it; but the great benefits that will be derived from this bill, if it shall pass into a law, the good influence it will have over the whole British state, will last, I hope, to the latest posterity. Can there be a better or happier fruit of the union than an active communication of the generous, free, and noble plan of the law of England, in the room of those servile tenures and barbarous cus. toms which, in Scotland, deform the system of govern
, ment, and by the effects which they have over that part of the people, which being least civilized, is consequently more prone to disorder, disturb the peace, and endanger the safety of the whole constitution ? When this is ac. complished, when these thorns are once rooted up, the way will be open to many other improvements, to the introduction of arts, of manufactures, of industry, of all the virtues and sweets of civil life, in the wildest parts of that country ; but all these blessings must be the gifts of good government. Before you can hope to make those people good subjects, or in any manner useful, you must first shew them more evidently whose subjects they are. Before they can be mended by the instructions of government, they must be protected by its power, and relieved by its care. Authority and justice must take the lead in this great work of reformation : discipline, peace, and civility will follow after.
I hope it will not be necessary to say any thing more, in order to shew what this bill is not, that it is not a breach of the union, that it is not an infliction of penal. ties on the innocent and well-deserving ; but allow me only to sum up, in a very few words, what I conceive that it is. It is a bill to secure and perfect the union, to carry the justice of the king into every part of the united kingdom, and, together with that royal justice, a more settled peace, a inore regular order, a surer protection, a closer and stronger bond of allegiance ; to put an end to all those dependencies that combine men together, not as subjects of the same king, or fellow.citizens of the same state, but as followers of particular lords, and which create an awe and an influence alike incompatible with liberty or with government. This will be done by this bill; and when you do this, you do at the same time, by å necessary consequence, strengthen the whole consti
tution, strengthen the crown on his majesty's head, strengthen the establishment in his royal family, and make the cause of the pretender more desperate ; for this is most certain, that all irregularities and disorders in the state, all divisions from the rule of true policy, and from the true genius of the English constitution, naturally tend to a change of government, and will, sooner or later, if they are not prevented by a wise and timely precaution, produce or assist such a change. These are the objects of a bill against which such unfortunate and unreasonable prejudices have been conceived. I cannot better commend the policy of it than in some words of a great lawyer, and a great statesman, Sir John Davis, in his book upon the state of the kingdom of Ireland, an excel. lent work, which has been lately reprinted—the words are these, “ There can never be concord or uniiy in any one kingdom but where there is but one king, and one allegiance.”
THE HON. HORATIO WALPOLE.
His Speech on Parliamentary Enquiries.
Mr. Speaker, As all the parliamentary enquiries into the conduct of ministers, which I ever heard or read of, have either produced no effect, or a very bad one, I have been, and I believe I shall always be, against our giving ourselves any such trouble ; and, I am sure, I shall never be for our enquiring into the conduct of any public transaction, because it is not applauded by the voice of common fame; a voice which never was favourable to ministers, till after they were in their graves ; and then, indeed, they may meet with that.justice which they never could expect while they were alive. I know, sir, it has been often