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people is the King's majesty, and the hereditary much more strength and far less odium, under privileges of the Peers; the balance of the State the name of influence. This influence, which opis the control for the people upon both, in the erated without noise and violence; which eonexistence of the House of Commons. But how verted the very antagonist into the instrument can that control exist for the people, unless they of power; which contained in itself a perpetual have the actual election of the House of Com- principle of growth and renovation ; and which mons, which, it is most notorious, they have not ? | the distresses and the prosperity of the country I hold in my hand a state of the representation equally tended to augment, was an admirable subwhich, if the thing were not otherwise notorious, stitute for a prerogative which, being only the I would prove to have been lately offered in proof offspring of antiquated prejudices, bad molded to the House of Commons, by an honorable friend in its original stamina irresistible principles of of mine now present, 35 whose motion I had the decay and dissolution." honor to second, where it appeared that twelve What is this but saying that the House of thousand people return near a majority of the Commons is a settled and scandalous abuse fastHouse of Commons, and those, again, under the ened upon the people, instead of being an antag. control of about two hundred. But though these onist power for their protection ; an odious infacts were admitted, all redress, and even dis- strument of power in the hands of the Crown. cussion, was refused. What ought to be said of instead of a popular balance against it ? Did a House of Commons that so conducts itself, it is Mr. Burke mean that the prerogative of the not for me to pronounce. I will appeal, there- Crown, properly understood and exercised, was fore, to Mr. Burke, who says, "that a House of an antiquated prejudice ? Certainly not, because Commons, which in all disputes between the peo- his attachment to a properly balanced monarchy ple and administration presumes against the peo. is notorious. Why, then, is it to be fastened upon ple, which punishes their disorders, but refuses the prisoners, that they stigmatize monarchy, even to inquire into their provocations, is an un- when they also exclaim only against is corrup. natural, monstrous state of things in the Consti- tions? In the same manner, when he speaks of tution." .
the abuses of Parliament, would it be fair to Mr. But this is nothing. Mr. Burke goes on aft- Burke to argue, from the strict legal meaning of
erward to give a more full description the expression, that he included, in the censure Still stronger Language of of Parliament, and in stronger language on Parliament, the King's person, or majesty,
(let the Solicitor General 36 take it down which is part of the Parliament ? In examining for his reply) than any that has been employed the work of an author you must collect the sense by those who are to be tried at present as con- of his expressions from the subject he is discuss. spirators against its existence. I read the pas. ing ; and if he is writing of the House of Comsage, to warn you against considering hard words mons as it affects the structure and efficacy of against the House of Commons as decisive evi the government, you ought to understand the dence of treason against the King. The passage word Parliament so as to meet the sense and obis in a well-known work, called “ Thoughts on vious meaning of the writer. Why, then, is this the Causes of the present Discontents ;'' and such common justice refused to others? Why is the discontents will always be present while their word Parliament to be taken in its strictest and causes continue. The word present will apply least obvious sense against a poor shoemaker just as well now, and much better than to the (Hardy), or any plain tradesman at a Shetfield time (1770) when the honorable gentleman wrote club, while it is interpreted in its popular, though his book; for we are now in the heart and bow- less correct acceptation, in the works of the els of another war, and groaning under its addi- most distinguished scholar of the age ? Add to tional burdens. I shall, therefore, leave it to the this, that the cases are not at all similar. Mr. learned gentleman who is to reply, to show us Burke uses the word Parliament throughout, what has happened since our author wrote, which when he is speaking of the House of Commons, renders the Parliament less liable to the same ob- without any concomitant words which convey an servations now.
explanation, but the sense of his subject; where“It must be always the wish of an unconsti- | as Parliament is fastened upon the prisoner as tutional statesman, that a House of Commons, meaning something beyond the House of Comwho are entirely dependent upon him, should have mons, when it can have no possible meaning beevery right of the people entirely dependent upon yond it; since from the beginning to the end it their pleasure. For it was soon discovered that is joined with the words “representation of the the forms of a free, and the ends of an arbitrary people'— the representation of the people in government, were things not altogether incom- Parliament." Does not this most palpably mean patible.
| the House of Commons, when we know that the “The power of the Crown, almost dead and people have no representation in either of the rotten as prerogative, has grown up anew, with other branches of the government.
A letter has been read in evidence from Mr. 35 Mr. (afterward Lord) Grey, who brought for
| Hardy to Mr. Fox, where he says Evidence that ward a motion for reform, in the session of 1792, in consequence of the resolution of the Society of their object was universal represent- Gres, and oth Friends of the People, of which he and Mr. Erskine ation. Did Mr. Fox suppose, when e do were members.
| he received this letter, that it was oneran aming a6 ctir John Mitford, afterward Lord Redesdale. from a nest of republicans, clamoring gurerament
to subvert the
publicly for a universal representative Constitu- , ment.” Here the word Parliament and the tion like that of France ? If he had, would he abuses belonging to it are put in express oppohave sent the answer he did, and agreed to pre- sition to the monarchy, and can not, therefore, sent their petition? They wrote also to the So- comprehend it ; the distempers of Parliament, ciety of the Friends of the People, and invited then, are objects of serious apprehension and rethem to send delegates to the convention.37 The dress. What distempers ? Not of this or that Attorney General, who has made honorable and year, but the habitual distempers of Parliament. candid mention of that body, will not suppose that And then follows the nature of the remedy, it would have contented itself with refusing the which shows that the prisoners are not singular invitation in terms of cordiality and regard, if, in thinking that it is by THE VOICE OF THE PEOwith all the knowledge they had of their transac-PLE ONLY that Parliament can be corrected. "It tions, they had conceived themselves to have been is not in Parliament alone,” says Mr. Burke, invited to the formation of a body which was to “ that the remedy for parliamentary disorders overrule and extinguish all the authorities of the can be completed; and hardly, indeed, can it bestate. Yet, upon the perversion of these two gin there. Until a confidence in government is terms, Parliament and Convention, against their re-established, the people ought to be excited to natural interpretation, against a similar use of a more strict and detailed attention to the conthem by others, and against the solemn explana- duct of their representatives. Standards for judgtion of them by the Crown's own witness, this ing more systematically upon their conduct ought whole fabric of terror and accusation stands for to be settled in the meetings of counties and corits support. Letters, it seems, written to other porations, and frequent and correct lists of the people, are to be better understood by the gen- voters in all important questions ought to be protlemen round this table, who never saw them till cured. By such means something may be done.'' months after they were written, than by those to It was the same sense of the impossibility of a whom they were addressed and sent; and no reform in Parliament, without a general expres. right interpretation, forsooth, is to be expected sion of the wishes of the people, that dictated the from writings when pursued in their regular se. Duke of Richmond's letter : all the petitions in ries, but they are to be made distinct by binding 178038 had been rejected by Parliament. This them up in a large volume, alongside of others made the Duke of Richmond exclaim, that from totally unconnected with them, and the very ex- that quarter no redress was to be expected, and istence of whose authors was unknown to one that from the people alone he expected any good; another.
and he, therefore, expressly invited them to claim I will now, gentlemen, resume the reading of and to assert an equal representation as their inOther language another part of Mr. Burke, and a pret dubitable and unalienable birth-right-how to asof Mr. Burke. ty account it is of this same Parlia sert their rights, when Parliament had already re. ment: “They who will not conform their con fused them without even the hope, as the Duke exduct to the public good, and can not support it pressed it, of listening to them any more. Could by the prerogative of the Crown, have adopted the people's rights, under such circumstances, a new plan. They have totally abandoned the be asserted without rebellion ? Certainly they shattered and old-fashioned fortress of preroga- might; for rebellion is, when bands of men withtive, and made a lodgment in the strong-hold of in a state oppose themselves by violence to the Parliament itself. If they have any evil design general will, as expressed or implied by the pubto which there is no ordinary legal power com- lic authority ; but the sense of a whole people, mensurate, they bring it into Parliament. There peaceably collected, and operating by its natural the whole is executed from the beginning to the and certain effect upon the public councils, is not end; and the power of obtaining their object ab- rebellion, but is paramount to, and the parent of, solute, and the safety in the proceeding perfect; authority itself. no rules to confine, nor aster-reckonings to terri- Gentlemen, I am neither vindicating nor speakfy. For Parliament can not, with any great pro- ing the language of inflammation or the true rempriety, punish others for things in which they discontent. I shall speak nothing that themselves have been accomplices. Thus its can disturb the order of the state I knowledge the control upon the executory power is lost." I am full of devotion to its dignity and people.
This is a proposition universal. It is not that tranquillity, and would not for worlds let fall an the popular control was lost under this or that expression in this or in any other place that could administration, but generally that the people have lead to disturbance or disorder. But for that very no control in the House of Commons. Let any reason I speak with firmness of THE RIGHTS OF man stand up and say that he disbelieves this to THE PEOPLE, and am anxious for the redress of be the case; I believe he would find nobody to their complaints, because I believe a system of believe him. Mr. Burke pursues the subject attention to them to be a far better security and thus : “ The distempers of monarchy were the establishment of every part of the government, great subjects of apprehension and redress in the than those that are employed to preserve them. last century — in this, the distempers of Parlia.
38 In that year Parliament was overwhelmed with 37 This society was composed of some of the first innumerable petitions on the subject of the increas. nobility and gentry of the kingdom-such as Lord ing influence of the Crown, the abuse of prerogative, Grey, Lord John Russell, &c.
| and the rights of the people. A A A
edy for discon: tent is to ac
The state and government of a country rest for | Attorney General has remarked upon this protheir support on the great body of the people ; ceeding at Sheffield (and whatever falls from a and I hope never to hear it repeated in any court person of his rank and just estimation, deserves of justice, that peaceably to convene the people great attention)-he has remarked that it is quite upon the subject of their own privileges can lead apparent they had resolved not to petition. Ther to the destruction of the King - they are the had certainly resolved not at that season to peti. King's worst enemies who hold this language. tion, and that seems the utmost which can be It is a most dangerous principle that the Crown maintained from the evidence. But supposing is in jeopardy if the people are acquainted with they had negatived the measure altogether, is their rights, and that the collecting them togeth there no way by which the people may actively er, to consider of them, leads inevitably to the associate for the purposes of a reform in Parliadestruction of the Sovereign. Do these gentlement, but to consider of a petition to the House men mean to say that the King sits upon his of Commons ? Might they not legally assemble throne without the consent, and in defiance of to consider the state of their liberties, and the The wishes, of the great body of his people, and conduct of their representatives? Might they that he is kept upon it by a few individuals who not legally form conventions or meetings (for the call themselves his friends, in exclusion of the name is just nothing) to adjust a plan of rational rest of his subjects? Has the King's inherit- union for a wise choice of representatives when ance no deeper or wider roots than this? Yes, Parliament should be dissolved ? May not the gentlemen, it has—it stands upon the love of the people meet to consider their interests preparapeople, who consider their own inheritance to be tory to, and independently of, a petition for any supported by the King's constitutional authority. specific object ? My friend seems to consider This is the true prop of the Throne ; and the love the House of Commons as a substantive and perof every people upon earth will forever uphold a manent part of the Constitution. He seems to government founded, as ours is, upon reason and forget that the Parliament dies a natural death; consent, as long as government shall be itself that the people then re-enter into their rights, and attentive to the general interests which are the that the exercise of them is the most important foundations and the ends of all human authority. duty that can belong to social man. How are Let us banish, then, these unworthy and impol- such duties to be exercised with effect, on moitic fears of an unrestrained and an enlightened mentous occasions, but by concert and commun. people; let us not tremble at the rights of man, ion? May not the people, assembled in their but, by giving to men their rights, secure their elective districts, resolve to trust no longer those affections; and, through their affections, their by whom they have been betrayed ? May they obedience. Let us not broach the dangerous not resolve to vote for no man who contributed doctrine that the rights of Kings and of men are by his voice to this calamitous war, which has incompatible. Our government at the Revolu- thrown such grievous and unnecessary burdens tion began upon their harmonious incorporation ; upon them ? May they not say, “ We will not and Mr. Locke defended King William's title vote for those who deny we are their constituupon no other principle than the rights of man. ents, nor for those who question our clear and It is from the revered work of Mr. Locke, and natural right to be equally represented ? Since not from the Revolution in France, that one of it is illegal to carry up petitions, and unwise to the papers in the evidence, the most stigmatized, transact any public business attended by multimost obviously flowed. For it is proved that Mr. tudes, because it tends to tumult and disorder,
Yorke held in his hand Mr. Locke upon Govern- may they not, for that very reason, depute, as ment, when he delivered his speech on the Castle they have done, the most trusty of their societies Hill at Sheffield, 39 and that he expatiated largely to meet with one another to consider, without the upon it. Well, indeed, might the witnesses say specific object of petitions, how they may claim, he expatiated largely, for there are many well. by means which are constitutional, their impreselected passages taken verbatim from the book; scriptible rights ? and here, in justice to Mr. White, 40 let me notice And here I must advert to an argument emthe fair and honorable manner in which, in the ployed by the Attorney General, that
Reply to the absence of the clerk, he read this extraordinary the views of the societies toward uni. Alloraey Gea performance. He delivered it not merely with versal suffrage carried in themselves ing universal distinctness, but in a manner so impressive, that (however sought to be effected) an *ui I believe every man in court was affected by it. i implied force upon Parliament. For that, sup
Gentlemen, I am not driven to defend every posing by invading it with the vast pressure, not The language expression. Some of them are im- of the public arm, but of the public sentiment of
ot al proper undoubtedly, rash, and inflam- the nation, the influence of which upon that as. but neither lan. matory; but I see nothing in the sembly is admitted ought to be weighty, it could Indiente evil in whole taken together, even if it were have prevailed upon the Commons to carry up a
connected with the prisoner, that goes bill to the King for universal representation and at all to an evil purpose in the writer. But Mr. annual Parliaments, his Majesty was bound to
39 Mr. Yorke was a member of the London Corre. reject it; and could not, without a breach of his sponding Society, and was appointed a delegate from coronation oath, consent to pass it into an act. I that society to similar societies at Sheffield and other can not conceive where my friend met with this places.
40 The Solicitor to the Treasury. | law, or what he can possibly mean by asserung
eral as tours
that the King can not, consistently with his cor- stand amazed at, and every one must confess onation oath, consent to any law that can be needs a remedy." stated or imagined, presented to him as the act "Salus populi suprema lex, is certainly so just of the two Houses of Parliament. He could not, and fundamental a rule, that he who sincerely indeed, consent to a bill sent up to him framed follows it can not dangerously err. If, thereby a convention of delegates assuming legislative fore, the executive, who has the power of confunctions. If my friend could have proved that voking the legislative, observing rather the true the societies, sitting as a Parliament, had sent up proportion, than fashion of representation, regusuch a bill to his Majesty, I should have thought lates, not by old custom, but by true reason, the the prisoner, as a member of such a Parliament, number of members in all places that have a was at least in a different situation from that in right to be distinctly represented, which no part which he stands at present. But as this is not of the people, however incorporated, can pretend one of the chimeras whose existence is contended to, but in proportion to the assistance which it for, I return back to ask upon what authority it affords to the public, it can not be judged to is maintained, that universal representation and have set up a new legislative, but to have reannual Parliaments could not be consented to by stored the old and true one, and to have rectified the King, in conformity to the wishes of the other the disorders which succession of time had insensbranches of the Legislature. On the contrary, ibly, as well as inevitably, introduced; for it beone of the greatest men that this country ever saw, ing the interest as well as intention of the people considered universal representation to be such an to have fair and equal representation, whoever inherent part of the Constitution, as that the King brings it nearest to that, is an undoubted friend himself might grant it by his prerogative, even to, and establisher of, the government, and can without the Lords and Commons--and I had not miss the consent and approbation of the comnever heard the position denied upon any other munity; prerogative being nothing but a power, footing than the Union with Scotland. But be in the hands of the Prince, to provide for the pub. that as it may, it is enough for my purpose that lic good, in such cases, which, depending upon the maxim, that the King might grant universal unforeseen and uncertain occurrences, certain representation, as a right before inherent in the and unalterable laws could not safely direct; whole people to be represented, stands upon the whatsoever shall be done manifestly for the good authority of Mr. Locke, the man, next to Sir of the people, and the establishing the govern. Isaac Newton, of the greatest strength of under- ment upon its true foundations, is, and always standing that England, perhaps, ever had; high, will be, just prerogative. Whatsoever can not too, in the favor of King William, and enjoying | but be acknowledged to be of advantage to the one of the most exalted offices in the state. 41 society, and people in general, upon just and Mr. Locke says, book ii., c. xiii., sect. 157 and lasting measures, will always, when done, justify 158: " Things of this world are in so constant itself; and whenever the people shall choose their Views of a flux, that nothing remains long in the representatives upon just and undeniably equal Mr. Locke. same state. Thus people, riches, trade, measures, suitable to the original frame of the power, change their stations, flourishing mighty government, it can not be doubted to be the will cities come to ruin, and prove, in time, neglected and act of the society, whoever permitted or desolate corners, while other unfrequented places caused them so to do." But as the very idea of grow into populous countries, filled with wealth universal suffrage seems now to be considered and inhabitants. But things not always chang- not only to be dangerous to, but absolutely deing equally, and private interest often keeping up structive of, monarchy, you certainly ought to be customs and privileges, when the reasons of them reminded that the book which I have been readare ceased, it often comes to pass, that in gov- ing, and which my friend kindly gives me a note ernments, where part of the legislative consists to remind you of, was written by its immortal of representatives chosen by the people, that, in author in defense of King William's title to the tract of time, this representation becomes very Crown; and when Dr. Sacheverel ventured to unequal and disproportionate to the reasons it was broach those doctrines of power and non-resistat first established upon. To what gross absurd ance, which, under the same establishments, have ities the following of custom, when reason has now become so unaccountably popular, he was left it, may lead, we may be satisfied when we impeached43 by the people's representatives for see the bare name of a town of which there re- denying their rights, which had been asserted and mains not so much as the ruins, where scarce so established at the glorious era of the Revolution. much housing as a sheep-cote, or more inhabitants than a shepherd, is to be found, sends as up to the passing of the Reform Bill, in 1832, when many representatives to the grand assembly of the borough was disfranchised, Old Sarum was replaw-makers, as a whole county, numerous in
resented in Parliament. people and powerful in riches.12' This strangers
43 A. D. 1709. Being found guilty, he was prohib
ited from preaching for three years, and his two ser +1 He was one of the Commissioners of Trade and mons, which had given so much offense, were ordered Plantations.
to be burned by the common hangman. The famous 42 Mr. Locke alluded to Old Sarum, in Wiltshire. decree passed in the Convocation of the University in which a few fragments of foundation-walls are the of Oxford, asserting the absolute authority and inonly traces of a town ever baving existed. It was defeasible right of princes, was also ordered to be, totally deserted in the reign of Henry VIII. ; but yet, in like manner, committed to the flames.
Gentlemen, if I were to go through all the public office, as a proof of the publicity of their Pare Third: matter which I have collected upon proceeding, a he sense they entertained of Examination this subject, or which obtrudes itself their innocen. * For the views and objects for the Crown upon my mind, from common read of the society, we must look to the institution ing in a thousand directions, my strength would itself, which you are, indeed, desired to look at fail long before my duty was fulfilled. I had by the Crown; for their intentions are not convery little when I came into court, and I have sidered as deceptions in this instance, but as abundantly less already; I must, therefore, man- plainly revealed by the very writing itself. age what remains to the best advantage. I pro- Gentlemen, there was a sort of silence in the ceed, therefore, to take a view of such parts of court-I do not say an affected one, for Motto of the evidence as appear to me to be the most ma- I mean no possible offense to any one, the society. terial for the proper understanding of the case. I but there seemed to be an effect expected from. have had no opportunity of considering it, but in beginning, not with the address itself, but with the interval which the indulgence of the court the very bold motto to it, though in verse : and your own has afforded me, and that has been "Unbless'd by virtue, government a league for a very few hours this morning. But it oc Becomes, a circling junto of the great curred to me, that the best use I could make of To rob by law; Religion mild, a yoke the time given to me was, if possible, to disem
To tame the stooping soul, a trick of state broil this chaos; to throw out of view every
To mask their rapine, and to share the prey.
Witbout it, what are Senates, but a face thing irrelevant, which only tended to bring
Of consultation deep and reason free, chaos back again; to take what remained in or
While the determined voice and heart are sold ? der of time; to select certain stages and rest What. boasted freedom, but a sounding name! ing-places; to review the effect of the transac And what election, but a market vile, tions, as brought before us, and then to see how of slaves self-barter'd ?" the written evidence is explained by the testi- I almost fancy I heard them say to me, “What mony of the witnesses who have been examined. I think you of that to set out with? Show me the The origin of the Constitutional Society not parallel of that.” Gentlemen, I am sorry, for
on having been laid in evidence before the credit of the age we live in, to answer, that (1.) London Correspond you, the first thing, both in point of it is difficult to find the parallel, because the age ng Society
* date, and as applying to show the ob- affords no such poet as he who wrote it. These jects of the different bodies, is the original ads are the words of Thomson ; and it is under the dress and resolution of the London Correspond banners of his proverbial benevolence that these ing Society on its first institution, and when it men are supposed to be engaging in plans of first began to correspond with the other, which anarchy and murder—under the banners of that had formerly ranked among its members so great and good man, whose figure you may still niany illustrious persons.4+ Before we look to see in the venerable shades of Hagley, placed the matter of this (latter institution, let us rec- there by the virtuous, accomplished, and publicollect that the objects of it were given without spirited Lyttelton : the very poem, too, writien reserve to the public, as containing the princi- under the auspices of his Majesty's royal father, ples of the former association. And I may be. when heir-apparent to the Crown of Great Britgin with demanding, whether the annals of this ain, nay, within the very walls of Carlton House, country, or, indeed, the universal history of man- which afforded an asylum to matchless worth kind, afford an assistance of a plot and conspiracy and genius in the person of this great poet. It voluntarily given up in its very infancy to gov- was under the roof of a PRINCE OF Wales that ernment, and the whole public; and of which-to the poem of LIBERTY was written ; and what avoid the very thing that has happened, the ar- better return could be given to a Prince for his raignment of conduct at a future period, and the protection, than to blazon, in immortal numbers, imputation of secrecy where no secret was in- the only sure title to the Crown he was to wear tended-a regular notice by letter was left with
-THE FREEDOM OF THE PEOPLE OF GREAT the Secretary of State, and a receipt taken at the Britain? And it is to be assumed, forsooth, in 44 Previous to the formation of the London Cor.
the year 1794, that the unfortunate prisoner beresponding Society, there existed another called the
fore you was plotting treason and rebellion, beSociety for Constitational Information. This was cause, with a taste and feeling beyond his humfounded by some of the most distinguished Whigs ble station, his first proceeding was usbered into of the kingdom. Soon after the commencement of view under the hallowed sanction of this admi. the French Revolution, it was joined by Horne rable person, the friend and the defender of the Tooke and others of more radical views, and many British Constitution; whose countrymen are preof its original members left it. This society took
paring at this moment (may my name descend the lead in sending a deputation to the National
among them to the latest posterity!) to do honoi Convention of France, an act which was highly cen. sured as derogatory to the Eoglish government.
to his immortal memory. Pardon me, gentlemen, They also passed a vote of thanks to Thomas Paine for this desultory digression-I must express myfor his work entitled the Rights of Man. Much of self as the current of my mind will carry me." the evidence in the present case was intended to identify the Corresponding Society with the Con. 15 This was done by the Corresponding Society, stitutional Society, and thus to load Hardy with the partly, no doubt, in the spirit of bravado. odium of their proceedings.
46 Thu-nenn was born at Ednam in Scotland, and