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licacy or scruple, in utter contempt of any opinion of the matter the said bankers might entertain; and that the same modes of procedure would again take place at the end of every seven years : supposing I say all these things, what think you, my Lord, would be the future prospects of the said bankers ? and how would the fraternity in Lombard-street, calculate or conjecture concerning their prosperity and their fate? When there are men paid to vindicate a real national case, of which this imaginary private case is no exaggeration, ought that “ interposition of the body of the people," recommended by Mr. Burke, to be neglected for a single month, or week, or day? (See p. 66.) Let us now return to that virtue of the house of commons we were speaking of. Fits of virtue, are no novelties. We had them above twenty years ago.
The house of that day supported Lord North, through thick and thin, sparing neither money nor blood, but giving him of both whatever he asked, until the American war had dishonoured, had burthened, bad threatened with beggarly, and bad sickened; and until ministerial misconduct had angered the nation. When, in consequence of its anger, the minister began to totter, the house began to be virtuous ; as he kept sinking, its virtue kept rising ; and when the minister [agaist, the nation's indignation,] could no longer stand, then the virtue of the house was at its height. After his fall, the virtue of the house like the dove of the ark, found for a while no rest for the sole of its foot, but went to and fro, until at last the waters of opposition were dried up
and abated from off the land, and the lately floating ark of the heaven-born pilot firmly rested between the court and the borough pinnacles of the forked inountain of faction., Here the pilot of the ark, like another Noah with his dove, “STAYED CERTAIN DAYS," and then
senT fORTH" the impatient virtue, which “RETURNED NOT AGAIN," nor was any more seen or heard of, for above twenty long years; that is, until another war more awful and threatening than the former, had again dishonoured, and beggared, and sickened; and until ministerial misconduct had again angered the nation. The devil, you know, must sometimes vote aright, to preserve his parent for doing evil.
But let us, my Lord, be grave. If wrongs the most intolerable, if calamity and shame can make men seri. ous, serious ought we to be. Where was this parlia. mentary virtue, when the vices of vile factions and their vile agent, against every interest of the state, against the constitution of their own country, and the liberties of mankind, plunged us into the war? Where was this virtue when the house like a deaf adder refused to listen to the counsels of peace, clothed in the language of wisdom? Where was this virtue, while those who thus counselled were deserted, were treated with contempt, with calumny and insult, and disgusted even froin attendance in a house, where the father of evil was even worshipped as a God, and suffered to trample on our laws and liberties with equal arrogance, audacity, and impunity?
Of the virtue of an assembly so constituted, let us then hear no inore. To be truly virtuous it must act against the law of its nature.
If it's majority of great magnitude be appointed at the will and pleasure of the TREASURY, of peers, and other BOROUGH PROPRIETORS, and a large proportion also of its members, are servants receiving the wages of the CROWN, it is the creature of usurpation, begotten by injustice on corruption; and it will obey the evil will of its evil creator. There is but one really intrinsic and completely virtuous act of which such an assembly could be capable; that is, to annihilate its own cause of existence, sa that, although sown in corruption, it might be raised in incorruption; although sown a factious body, it might be raised a constitutional body. Not indeed being a Paul, I certainly do not expect my preaching to work miracles of conversion ; but yet, being strong in faith, I may contribute towards the existence or the increase of faith in others; and, like the sower that went forth to sow, may in my sphere be an instrument in carrying on this political husbandry, and promoting this work of regeneration ; for seed must be sown before a harvest can be gathered.
Or, adopting the imagery of the fable of the Phænir, whose youth and vigour is renewed by the very flame in which its age and decriptitude expire, let not the moral be lost upon us. Applied to a popular politica! institution, it is singularly apt and beautiful. The imperfections incident to such an institution, like the unconcocted sap of hay too hastily put together, prodnce the flame by which it is consumed. We have recently seen state imperfections generating popular flame, and we have seen that flame in respect both of a particular case and object, and towards the reform also of official abuse, doing its wholesome work of regeneration.
N the constitution of a national government, a representative assembly is that master faculty whose action it is that gives health and vigour, and is the very life of life; and by whose re-action again obstructions are removed, diseases expelled, and even death itself set at defiance. In the constitutions of the Greek and Roman republics, it was the want of this faculty that prevented their ever attaining a seitled order of government, which could be appealed to as a standard of rectitude, and when great corruptions and oligarchical diseases fell upon them, it was the want of this resuscitating principle which prevented their recovery; so that their distempers finding no remedy, they perished; as the constitution of England will as assuredly perish, whenever the cominons house of parliament shall, without remedy, cease to be strictly representative of the people, and thereby lose its resuscitating principle.
Let therefore that house retain its whole proper nature, and the present popular flame against corruptions reach but that Phænic of the constitution, and then all will soon be well. In the pure flame of constitutional
reformation, let all the usurpations, all the venality, all the mischiefs in the siate, centring so conspicuously in that assembly, but once expire, from their ashes we soon shall see rise freedom, health, and vigour, in the splendour of exquisite beauty.
On this point the events now before us are full of instruction. They must teach the most incredulous and the most ignorant, to penetrate the true meaning of those politicians, not only in their own practice, but in condemning the practice of others, who closely imitate unprincipled quacks. These sons of effrontery and ignorance, who, in the last debilities of a putrid disease, order murdering evacuations, instead of cordial restoratives; assassinating phlebotomy, instead of re-aninating wine; are the very prototypes of those whose counsels have brought our country to its present low condi. tion, while they are ever exclaiming against the true state physicians, whether they write, or whether they speak; nay, even for seceding from parliameniary altendance, with being infiammatory. Mr. Fox is inflammatory : Sir Francis Burdett is inflammatory : even Mr. Whitbread, with all his cantion and self-command, in the serious work of accusation, is inflammatory : I too, have had the honour of being classed among the infiammatory; but of all the inflammatory writers of our times, none have been equal to those commissioners of naval inquiry, whose libels, as they were called by Mr. Cunning,set the whole nation, and half the house of commons in a flame ; a flame which not even the utmost efforts of the two hundred and sixteen on the 8th. of April, nor those of the two hundred and twenty-nine, on the 25th of June, with the mighty minister at their head could smother; and a flame wbich, I trust, not all the powers of corruption shall quench, until the political floor shall be thoroughly purged, until our liberties shall be laid safe in the garner, and the chaff of faction be burned with fire unquenchable.
After the present examples of what a popular flame, in contact with parliamentary corruption itself, is capable of effecting, can any intelligent parliamentary reformer despair If the paltry iniquity of one man, have lighted up a flame, which nothing but his punish
ment can extinguish; do we not see how easily, by our union and energy, THE BOROUGH faction may be made to give up their usurpations ? What are the mischiefs arising from the secret crimes of an individual office, compared with those that teem from that prolific mother of evil, which fills every department, every office of the state, with crime and abuse ? When, in the first pitched battle between 'corruption and reformation, on the 8th of April, we perceive that not a single placeman in the house of commons, where so many of them have seats, not an individual man, holding a public office, at the pleasure of the crown, but made common cause with a corrupt official delinquent, and voted against a mere acknowledgement of his crime, is it possible to doubt of the close and intimate connection, between parliamentary and official
corruption ? or not to see that the former is the
proper and prolific parent of the latter?
But indeed, what is the gang of placemen under the crown, having seats in a Commons House of Parliament, but in itself rank bribery, and foul corruption ? And for what purpose, such an abomination and monstrous absurdity, but for the very object of generating corruption to the end, that the crown with parliament for its instrument may become perfectly despotic?
Mr. Burke, we know amongst his contradictory extravagances, was sometimes an advocate for such in. fuence. At one time he could boast of, “ extinguish
ing secret corruption, almost to the possibility of its “ existence'; and of destroying direct and visible in“ Auence, equal to the offices of at least, fifty members
of parliament.”! At another he is quite in love with their visible influence."
" It is not easy,” says “ to foresee, what the effect would be, of disconnecting “ with parliament, the greatest part of those who hold o civil employments, and of such mighty and impor“ tant bodies as the military and naval establishments. “ It were better, perhaps, that they should have a cor“ rupt interest, in the forms of the constitution, than “ that they should have none at all.”2 What does the man mean, by talking of gentlemen having “ no in
1 Speech 11 Feb. 1780. p. 87. 2 Thoughts on the cause of the present discontents, p. 97.