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it is a certain sign that they continue to think him the most proper person to represent them, notwithstanding his having accepted of a place or employment under the crown. Then, as to the gentlemen who are now, or may hereafter be in offices, civil or military, under the crown, it is certain that they generally are gentlemen of families, and many of them have very large properties in their country. Have not they, therefore, as good a right to stand candidates for being chose members of parlia. ment, as any of those gentlemen who are out of employment? And if the people do them the honour to choose them, why should we, by a law, deprive them of that honour, which the people have thought fit to confer upon them? Is it not robbing them of a part, at least, of those rights which they have a just title to as Englishmen, or as free Britons?
By this bill I must likewise think there is a very great piece of injustice done to the crown. I cannot but think it a very extraordinary thing to put such a mark of disgrace upon all the officers employed by the crown, as to exclude them from the right of having seats in parliament, and that for no other reason but because the king has thought them worthy of serving their country in some office, civil or military, under him. It is really not only putting an affront upon his present majesty, but even upon the crown itself, and rendering it impossible for our government to subsist under its present form ; for if such an ignominy shall be put upon all those who shall accept of any employment under the crown, as to render them incapable of serving their country in parliament, which is one of the highest honours a gentleman can have in this country, what gentleman of family or fortune, of honour or capacity, will accept of any employment under the crown, and thus, by render. ing it impossible for the king to get any man of family or fortune, or honour or capacity, to serve under him, you will render it impossible for our government or con, stitution to subsist under a monarchical form.
Should the bill now before us pass into a law, I think it is easy to foresee the consequence. It would bring the house of commons into the highest contempt; or it would bring all those gentlemen, who accept of any of fice in the government, civil or military, under contempt. It is natural for every man to endeavour to render contemptible, that honour, that post, or that thing, which he knows he cannot attain to. The gentlemen of the army, the navy, or in civil office, knowing that by law they were all absolutely excluded from the honour of having seats in the house of commons, would all join together in endeavouring to render the house contempti- . ble in the eyes of the people ; and we need not doubt but that the clergy would join with the rest, because I think they are already excluded. On the other hand, the gentlemen of the house of commons, and those who might continue to be eligible into this house, would endeavour to support the honour of this house, by endea. vouring to render contemptible all those who accepted of any post or employment, either in church or state. Is it not much to be feared, that such an unnatural division as this might, in the end, prove fatal to the constitution ? For the success of either party would certainly overturn our present form of government.
I will not say, but the country gentlemen are very proper representatives of the people; and I believe the majority of this house will always consist of such, as it has formerly done; but I believe it will be granted me, that it is necessary, for dispatching the business that properly comes before this house, to have likewise some of those gentlemen among us, who belong to, and are acquainted with the manner of transacting business in the several great offices under the government. Every gentleman who has been but a short time in this house, and has attended to the several sorts of business that have come before us, and the several sorts of papers and accounts, we have from time to time found it neces. sary to call for, must have taken notice that the house
would have been sometimes greatly bewildered, if we had not had some gentlemen among us belonging to the public offices, capable of explaining to the house the matters which we then happened to have under our consideration; which must convince every man of the necessity of having some such gentlemen always amongst us. If, indeed, there were reason to suspect that gentlemen in offices were, by their enjoying such offices, any way influenced in their way of acting or speaking in this house, it might then be necessary to contrive some way of preventing that influence for the future; but as I am. convinced that a man's being in an office, does not in the least influence his way of thinking, or his manner of acting in this house ;* I therefore think we have no occasion for contriving any such remedies at present, and far less for such an extraordinary remedy as is proposed by the bill now before us; for which reason I am against committing it.
(Member for Worcester,)
Was one of the most frequent and able speakers of this period.
What his principles were I do not know : for the side which any person took at this time, was a very equivocal test of his real sentiments; toryism, through this and the preceding reign, generally assuming the shape of resistance to the encroachments of the prerogatire, and attachment to the liberties of the people,
His Speech in Reply. Sir, As this bill met with no opposition, either when it was moved for, or when it was brought in and read the first
* This is an entirely new view of human nature, different from any that has been hitherto commonly received !
time, I was very little apprehensive that we should have
I had any debate upon it; and much less was I apprehensive that our going into a committee upon it would have been opposed : for as yet it can be called little more than a blank; it cannot well deserve the name of a bill, till it has gone through the committee, where the many blanks which are now in it, are properly to be filled up. I was, indeed, surprised to hear the worthy gentleman who spoke last, say that he thought it the most extraordi. nary and unreasonable bill he had ever seen brought into this house : for if the gentleman will look into our jour. nals, he will see that this very bill has been often brought in, and has almost always been passed in this house ; and I am sure, if ever it was thought reasonable by this house, it must now be thought much more so, when the number of placemen is much greater than it was ever heretofore. The worthy gentleman has likewise told us, that he thinks the bill unjust, both with respect to the crown, the people, and the gentlemen who have the honour to be employed by the crown; as to which I shall take notice in general, that, by the same method of reasoning, he may pretend to shew us that all the laws that were ever made for regulating elections were unjust, and were encroachments upon the rights of the people. I shall readily agree with him, that the people are the pro- . perest judges who ought to be chosen by them for repre. sentatives in parliament; and I am confident, that were they left to a free choice, we should not see so many civil and military officers brought into parliament.
The people, I believe, would always think themselves more secure in being represented by country gentlemen, with whom they are well acquainted, and who can have no interest separate from them, than by clerks of offices, or such other persons, whom they perhaps never saw or heard of before they came down to be chosen their representatives, and whom, probably, they may never see again till they return to ask the same favour; which every gentleman here knows to be often the case with
many of our little boroughs in England. But to say that it would be any injustice in us, to lay any restraint upon the people, as to the choice of their representatives
, seems to me very extraordinary, when we consider the laws now in being, by which the people are restrained from choosing any gentleman for their representative, who is not possessed of such an estate. Surely, we may, with respect to elections, without being guilty of any injustice, lay what restraints we think necessary for the good of the public, and the preservation of our constitution; and I am sure, that whatever is for the benefit of the people, cannot be justly said or thought to be inju. rious to the crown. It is extraordinary to say that what is proposed by this bill, would be an injustice done to those who are thereby to be made incapable of being elected; for have not we already a law by wiich all the officers concerned in the collection of the customs or excise, are rendered incapable of being chosen members of parliament? And yet I have naver before heard it urged that there was any injustice done to those gentlemen, by excluding them from having seats in parliament, as long as they are in an office, which is inconsistent with their being members of this house.
I will allow, that the choice made by the burgesses of a little borough, or by the freeholders of a county, if it falls upon an officer, civil or military, shews that the ma. jority of those electors, at that time, did not think the of. fice he then enjoyed, incompatible or inconsistent with his being their representative; but I hope it will not be said, that the burgesses of a little borough, or even the freeholders of a county, are better judges in this respect than the representatives of the whole people of Great Britain met'in this house, especially when the opinion of this house is approved of, and confirmed by the other two branches of our legislature. As to the alternative
. pretended, that if this bill should pass into a law, it would render either the officers, civil and military, contemptible, or this house contemptible in the eyes of the