Qualis frugifero quereus sublimis in agro,
Exttvias veteres populi, sacrataque testaus
Dona ducum ; nee jam N, alidis radiexbus Mucus,
Pondere fixa suo est :
At quarovis prim° nutet casura sub Euro
Tot circus), s lIvm firmo se rebore tollani
Sofa tamer colitur.






Printed by A. and R. Spattiswoede,
Printers-Street, London.

THE design upon which the following
essay was written comprehended much
more than has been yet accomplished.
It was my object to illustrate, by an
analysis of the history of the governments
of modern Europe from the commence-
ment of the fifteenth century, two very
plain but somewhat neglected truths.
The first is, that the monarchies of the
continent of Europe have been, generally
speaking, so ill adapted to make their
subjects virtuous and happy, that they
require, or required, complete regener-
ation. The second is, that the govern-
ment of England ought not to be in-
cluded in this class ; that it is calculated
to produce liberty, worth, and content,


among the people ; whilst its abuses easily
admit of reforms consistent with its spirit,
capable of being effected without injury
or danger, and mainly contributing to its

The latter portion of this work is the
only part (except an introduction to the
whole) that I have finished. The reason
Why it is thus prematurely 'published,
without sufficient concoction or correc-
tion, is to be attributed to the vanity of
imagining it may at this period be of
some service. It may at least provoke
the wits and excite the thoughts of
otner men, to a more happy attention to
subjects in which every member of this
free community has an interest of the
deepest importance.



First principles of the English government and con-

stitution - •-


Henry the Seventh


Henry the Eighth

- 22

- 22

The Reformation -


Queen Elizabeth


James the First

- 45

- 55Charles the First

Definitions of liberty

- 84

Civil liberty

Personal liberty

Political liberty






- 87

- 99

- 114

- 127





Party.—Reign of Queen Anne - 130


. Cause of the dissolution of the English form of
government under Charles the First

- - 67

Cromwell, Charles the Second, and James the


- 72



Impeachment.—Bills of pains and penalties - 149


George the First, and George the Second - 160.


George the Third.— Beginning of his rei gn - 172

The Revolution
- 79 CHAP. XX.

The sense of justice - - 176

Of an extreme remedy against the abuses of power;

and moderation in the use of the remedy - 179


Influence of the crown - - 184


Criminal law - 192


Public schools in England - 200


Poor laws

- 208

War with the French republic

- 214

National debt

Page G. line 20. substitute a full point for the comma after


12. line 1. of the note, for Essays read Essay.

- 217

Parliamentary reform


18. — 3. for Lancasterian read Lancastrian.
14. line 14. for other read others.

- 23r 33. — 14. for in
read on.


55. Title, for Charles the Second read Charles the First.
36. — 17. for nation was read parliament were.

That the excellence of theEnglish government

56. line 4. of the note, for ruins read runs.

does not consist in the laws only, but in the

- —

106. line 15. delete the comma after For.

spirit and good sense of the nation


107. — 19. delete the comma after Niles.

124. — 19. after obtained insertfor.

- 274
___ 136. — 14. put a full point after herself-


211. — 9. for to see read see.

224. — 10. for render read renders.

267. — 2. for these read this.

Liberty of the press


Restrictive laws

• 292


- 283


house of Tudor, the course of weak misrule and
daring opposition, — of fierce contention and
alternate victory, which, marking with a line of
blood the history of the Stuart dynasty, at length



ended in a peaceable revolution, and the estab-
lishment of regular liberty. But those who
have seen the harvest can have no doubt that
the seed was in the ground ; and at this day it
ought to be within our power to point out what
were the elements of freedom in the state of
England, during the reign of the Tudors, which
have been since developed in her matchless con-
stitution. Among them, we may, without hesi-
tation, enumerate the following circumstances.

In the first place, the sovereignty of England
did not reside in the King solely. All matters
of great state importance were made subjects of
deliberation in the King's high court of Parlia-
ment, which was called together expressly for that
purpose. In case of war, it was the business of
that assembly to consider of means for carrying it
on : if the succession was disputed, or a regency
required, an appeal was made to their judgment ;
and all laws intended to be permanently binding
on the people received the sanction of their
authority. Nor did the princes of the house
of Tudor attempt by any means to diminish or
undervalue the importance of parliament. The

crown of Henry the Seventh rested on a par-


liamcntary act. Henry the Eighth repeatedly

employed the name, and acknowledged the power
of Parliament to change the succession. In the -

reign of Elizabeth, it was made a prcemunire to
say, that Parliament had not power to dis-
pose of the succession to the crown. Thus,
however arbitrary the acts of these sovereigns,
nothing was taken from the reverence due to the
great council of the king, the grand inquest
of the nation, and the highest court in the
kingdom. The power given to Henry the
Eighth, to issue proclamations equal in validity
to laws, was indeed a direct blow to parliamentary
government. But this act was of force only
eight years, and contained a proviso that these
proclamations should not be contrary to the
established laws of the realm. During the
reigns of Mary and Elizabeth, the Parliament,
however subservient, was yet a principal instru-
ment in carrying on the government. Hence

arose a necessity, not indeed that a King of
England should relinquish tyrannical power,
but that he must have his Lords and Commons
accomplices in his tyranny. If these bodies
therefore should ever claim an equal share in

B 2


the state, the King must either submit to their
claims, or by discontinuing parliaments, give
fair warning to the people that the form of
government was changed.

Secondly. The nobility were not separated
from the people by odious distinctions, like
the other feudal nobility of Europe. Various
causes have been assigned for this difference ;
without discussing them, I shall content myself
with stating the fact. It would not be correct
to suppose, however, that the feudal system has
not existed in England in a very odious shape.
After the Conquest, the feudal tenure seems to
have been adopted by all the principal land-
holders of England, in a great council held in
the year 1 08 6.* Wardships, liveries, primer
seisins, . and ouster-lemains, values and for-
feitures of marriage, fines for alienation, tenures

by homage, knight-service and es•uage, as well
as aids for marrying the King's daughter, and
knighting his son, are all enumerated as part of
the law of England, by the act of Charles II.
which abolishes them. Happily, however, the

system was not allowed to throw its roots very

Blackstone, b. ii. c. 4.


deep in the soil. A practice, which was grow-
ing general, of sub-infeudations, or granting
inferior feuds by the mesne lords, with the same
conditions as the chief, was restrained by the

act of Quia emptores ( 1 8 Edw. I.) which directs
that upon all sales, or grants of land in fee,
the sub-tenant shall hold, not of the imme-
diate, but of the superior lord. A corrective
to the tyranny of the feudal system was also to
be found in the constitution of our county
courts, the cradle of our liberties, in which are
to be found the origin of our juries, and the
model of our parliaments. Here the free
tenants met to do justice between man and
man ; and here, it is probable, they deliberated
on the means of affording the assistance they

were bound to give, to defend him and them-

selves against an enemy.
Thus much with respect to the free tenants.

The state of the villeins is, perhaps, a subject
of still more importance. The main difference
between the two classes was this. The free
tenant held his land, on condition of perform-
ing certain fixed services; the villein also held
land, but was bound to perform services,.

13 3


base in their nature, and often undefined in their
extent. Here was real servitude. How soon
it began to be abrogated we know not, but we
are told by Sir Thomas Smith, who was secre-
tary to Edward VI. and Queen Elizabeth, that
in all his time he never knew any instance of a
villein in gross, that is, of a villein transferable
by sale, and not attached to the soil, in the king-

dom; and that the few villeins attached to the
soil, who remained, were such only 'as had
belonged to bishops, monasteries, and other
ecclesiastical c

orporations. The last claim of
villenage recorded in our courts, was in the
fifteenth year of James I. This great change,
which had been silently operating in the con-
dition of the people of England, is probably to
be attributed to various causes, — the absence
of foreign armies,—the necessity of conciliating
the people during the civil wars, — and above
all, the inherent justice and piety of the nation,

There were several ways in which a villein
attached to the soil could obtain his freedom.
Ile might be manumitted. Or if his lord
brought an action against him, it was supposed
to allow his freedom. Or if he went into a


town and settled there, he instantly enjoyed its
immunities, and became free. Or, lastly, if he
could show that, for time out of mind, he and
his ancestors had been registered in the roll of
the Lord's court, as having possession of the

land he held, he obtained a. prescriptive right
against his lord. This was done by producing
a copy of the court-roll, and hence the term
copyholder. It has been supposed by some
that copyhold was known before the Conquest.
At whatever time it originated, however, its
early prevalence is nobly characteristic of the
English nation. Villenage was known in France

till near the end of the eighteenth century ; in
Spain it is newly abolished; in Germany it is
not extinct; in Russia it is in full vigour. But
the spirit of the English people, and the equa-
lity of the common-law have always been a just
corrective of the degrading institutions and cus-
toms imported from other countries. Magna
Charta itself is a noble and singular proof of the
sympathy then existing between the barons and
the people of England. Philippe de Comines
speaks of the humanity with which the nobility
treated the people in the civil wars. English-

B 4


men have always felt that, if the order of civil
society required the relations of superior and
inferior ranks, nature conferred feelings and

capacities with impartial justice upon all. Inti-
mately connected with this spirit, is the absence
of any distinction between gentleman and rotu-
rier. " The law," says Mr. Hallam, " has
never taken notice of gentlemen.* From the

reign of Henry III., at least, the legal equality
of all ranks below the peerage was, to every
essential purpose, as complete as at present.
Compare two writers nearly contemporary,
Bracton with Beaumanoir, and mark how the
customs of England and France are distinguish-
able in this respect. The Frenchman ranges

the people under three divisions,—the noble, the
free, and the servile; our countryman has no
generic class, but freedom and villenage. No
restraint seems ever to have lain upon marriage.

The purchase of land held by knight-service

* The statute of Merton certainly affords an exception to
this remark, when it speaks of the wards of noblemen

beingdisparaged by marrying villeins, or others, us burgesses. Hut
the same act allows that such marriages, if made by the ward's
consent, after fourteen years of age, are legal. — J. R.


was always open to all freemen. From the
beginning our law has been no respecter of
persons. It screens not the gentleman of an-
cient lineage from the judgment of an ordinary
jury, nor from ignominious punishment. It
confers not, nor ever did confer, those unjust
immunities from public burthens which the su-
perior orders arrogated to themselves upon the
Continent. Thus, while the privileges of our
peers, as hereditary legislators of a free people,
are incomparably more valuable and dignified,
they are far less invidious in their exercise, than
those of any other nobility in Europe. It is, I
am firmly persuaded, to this peculiarly demo-
cratical character of the English monarchy, that
we are indebted for its long permanence, its
regular improvement, and its present vigour.
It is a singular, a providential circumstance,
that, in an age when the gradual march of civi-
lization and commerce was so little foreseen,

our ancestors, deviating from the usages of
neighbouring countries, should, as if deliber-
ately, have guarded against that expansive force,
which in bursting through obstacles improvi-


dently opposed, has scattered havoc over Eu-
rope." s

Thus we see the nobility of England formed
no separate caste. Their sons, not excepting
the eldest, were in all respects, part and parcel
of the commons of the land. It was decided,
by votes of Parliament, both in the reign of

Henry VIII. and in that of Elizabeth, that the
eldest son of the Earl of Bedford was entitled
to sit in the House of Commons. No decision

could well be more auspicious. The heirs to a
peerage, instead of feeling that petty pride, and
indulging that insolent ignorance, which high
rank has so great a tendency to breed, were
members of an assembly in which they appeared

as, or deliberated with, the citizens and bur-
gesses of the land : they thus imbibed the feel-
ings, and became acquainted with the wants-.of
the people. When a struggle was to be made\
for freedom, many of them sympathised in the
cause; few quitted their country; and thus
their importance survived even the democratic
revolution of 164.9.

illiddle Ages,
p. 199. Ste note (A) at the end ofthe volnme.


Thirdly. The last and the greatest element
of freedom which existed in England, was the

constitution of her House of Commons. Some
wise men, I know, have considered that all vir-
tue was taken away from that body by a law of
Henry VI. which limits the right of voting in

counties to 40s. freeholders; and they have judi-
ciously dated the fall of the liberties of England
from the time when villenage was gradually
giving way to freedom. To such an opinion I
certainly do not subscribe. Nor is it my inten-
tion to enter here into any controversy respect-
ing the origin of our representation. Such a
discussion belongs properly to an earlier period
than that of which we are now speaking. The
points to which I shall now confine my remarks
are the Principle of Representation, and the
Nature of our own Representation generally.

It has been observed to me, that in the

ancient commonwealths, the people, who decided
on public affairs, were all of a higher order than
those of the poorer class, who in England read
newspapers and discuss political questions. But
this is a complete mistake. Slaves, it is true,
had nothing to do with political functions, but,

1 2

the poorest artisans who were free, had a voice
in the public councils. The manner in which

their votes were to be given, formed a difficulty
which the ancient states did not altogether suc-
cessfully vanquish. If the promiscuous multi-

tude were admitted, with equal suffrages, into
the public assemblies, as at Athens, the de-

cisions were hasty, passionate, unjust, and
capricious. If a method was adopted, as that
of centuries at Rome, of giving a weight to

property against numbers, it was difficult to
avoid putting the scale entirely in the hands of
the rich, enabling them to outvote the poor,
and thus making an odious distinction between
the richer and poorer, higher and lower classes

of the community. This evil was greatly felt
at Rome,. and the expedient of setting up
another and independent assembly, which de-
cided by numbers only, was a very rude and \-•
a very imperfect remedy.*

'4 See nume's Essays on some Remarkable ,Customs.
-- My soul akes

To know, when two authorities are up,
Neither supreme, how soon confusion
May enter 'twist the gap of both.

Coriolanns, act 3.


The principle of representation nearly, if
not entirely, overcomes these obstacles. A cer-
tain number of persons are chosen by the
people at large, whose commission it is to watch
over the interests of the community. Consisting
naturally and inevitably of persons, of some for-
tune and education, they are not so likely to

be borne away by the torrent of passion, as the
general, unsifted mass of the nation. Depend-
ing upon the people ultimately for their power,
they are not so liable to act from personal in-

terest, or esp it de corps, as a body of men whose
power is attached for ever to their rank in the
state. If the representative assembly is en-
trusted for no very short period with the con-
cerns of the people; and if the members of it
are always capable of being re-elected, such an
assembly will evidently become enlightened on
all the interests, and capable of discussing, with
ability, all the great movements of the state.
The most powerful minds in the nation will be
brought to bear on any important measure of
policy or justice, and, at the same time, the
humblest individual in the country is sure,
through some channel or other, to find a hear-


ing for his injuries, in the presence of the re-
presentatives of the whole people. The equality
of civil rights, of which we have before spoken,
is probably the reason why we find the knights
sitting in the same assembly with the citizens
and burgesses. There are few things in our
early constitution of more importance than this.

Cities and towns, however necessary their as-
sistance for granting aids and taxes, are not
likely to obtain, in a feudal country, that kind
of respect from the other bodies in the state
which would enable them to claim a large share
of political power. The separation of this class
from the other, was perhaps one of the chief
causes of the failure of the Spanish, and other
early constitutions similar to our own. But in
England, the knights, who represented the
landed force of the whole country, gave a stabiliv
and compactness to the frame of the House of
Commons, and placed it on a broad foundation,
not easily shaken by any king who should
attempt its overthrow.

The sitting of the knights, citizens, and bur-
gesses in one assembly, however, was not always

the rule. It has been established by one of those


happy unions of fortune and counsel to whicn
the English constitution owes so much; —I know
not, indeed, if I ought to call it fortune. There
was a practical wisdom in our ancestors, which
induced them to alter and vary the form of our
institutions as they went on ; to suit them to the

circumstances of the time, and reform them
according to the dictates of experience. They
never ceased to work upon our frame of go-
vernment, as a sculptor fashions the model of a
favourite statue. It is an art that is now sel-
dom used, and the disuse has been attended
with evils of the most alarming magnitude.




This King, to speak of him in terms equal to his deserving,
was one of the best sort of wonders, a wonder for wise men.
He had parts, both in his virtues and his fortune, not so fit
for a common-place as for observation.

Loran BACON, Life and Reign. of Henry VII.

HE battle of Bosworth Field put an end to

the long and destructive wars which had wasted
the blood, and disfigured the fair fitce of Eng-
land, in the quarrel between the houses of York

and Lancaster. Such a contention is little
less disgraceful to mankind than it would hive
been to have made the white and red roses the
subject, instead of the symbols, of hostility, and
affords but too much ground for the assertion
of a democratic writer, that hereditary right
has caused as long and as sanguinary wars as
elective monarchy.

Henry, who was crowned in the field of

battle, lost no time in proving he was as well
able to keep, as to acquire a throne. He im-
mediately summoned a parliament, and ob-
tained from them the passing of a statute, not
declaring that he was lawful heir to the crown ;
not asserting the right of conquest, or of elec-
tion ; but enacting " that the inheritance of the
crown should rest, remain, and abide in the

king." He procured this statute to be confirmed
by the pope's bull. In the same spirit of peace
and moderation, he caused many exceptions
to be inserted in the acts for attainting the ad-
herents of King Richard. A few years after-
ward he procured a law to be passed, declaring
that no one should be called in question for

obeying a king de facto. He thus quieted the
minds of his subjects, and added more to the
stability of his government, than he could pos-
sibly have clone by displaying what Bacon calls
the wreath of five ; to wit, his own descent, and
that of his Queen, the claim of conquest, and the
authorities, parliamentary and papal. Amongst
these titles, that of the house of York seems to
have given him little satisfaction, and he took
care not to crown his queen for a considerable


time after his marriage. And whether from
prejudice or policy, it is certain that his Lan-
casterian partialities influenced his conduct dur-
ing the whole of his reign.

One of Henry's first endeavours was to pro-
cure a law to prevent conspiracies among the
great, and riots among the people. In a fiarlia-
mem assembled in the third year of this reign,
Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury and Chan-
cellor of the kingdom, spoke the following
words : —" His Grace e. the King) said), that
it is not the blood spilt in the field that will save
the blood in the city ; nor the marshal's sword
that will set this kingdom in perfect peace ; but
that the true way is to stop the seeds of sedition
and rebellion at the beginnings, and for that
purpose to devise, confirm, and quicken good
and wholesome laws against riots and unlawful
assemblies of people, and all combinations
and confederacies of them by liveries, tokens,
and other badges of factious dependence ; that
the peace of the land may by these ordinances,
as by bars of iron, be soundly bound in and
strengthened, and all force, both in court, coun-
try, and private houses, be suppressed."

The chief law passed by Parliament with the
view here explained, was an act confirming the
authority of the Star-Chamber in certain cases.
The Star-Chamber, composed of prelates, peers,
counsellors, and judges, had an undefined juris-
diction without the intervention of a jury over
many offences not capital, and over actions

proving a design to commit offences not actually
committed. " But that which was principally
aimed at by this act," says Lord Bacon, " was
force, and the two chief supports of force, com-
bination of multitudes, and maintenance or head-
ship of great persons." The danger to liberty, of
entrusting power so large and arbitrary to per-
sons named by the crown, does not appear to
have struck any one at this time ; and Lord
Bacon is lavish in his praises of the Star-
Chamber, calling it one of the sagest and noblest
institutions of this kingdom. But long civil
war induces a people to surrender liberty for
peace, as long peace induces them to encounter
even civil war for liberty. One of the next
acts of the Parliament was the sanction of an
arbitrary tax. This species of tax, known by
the name of Benevolence, had been raised by

c 2


Edward IV., without the consent of Parliament,
and abolished by Richard III. in a very re-
markable statute. It was now revived by act of
Parliament on the occasion of a war with France.
But the real object was to amass money; for
Henry had scarcely landed in France before he
concluded a peace, by which he was to receive

745,000 ducats (about 186,0001. sterling) and a
tribute of 25 crowns yearly.

This reign was much disturbed by rebellion.
Attachment to the house of York, and the bur-
then of taxes seem to have been the chief causes
of discontent. Bacon attributes an insurrec-
tion in the North to respect for the memory of
Richard III., a proof that his government, in
that part of the kingdom, had not been very

The chief object of Henry's administration
was to restrain the inordinate power of the great `\,
barons. Two laws enacted for this purpose,
the one facilitating the sale of entailed lands by
what is called breaking an entail, and another
suppressing retainers, were, with other sta-
tutes and the extensive authority given to the
Star-Chamber, eminently conducive to the

object for which they were framed. In thus
directing his policy, Henry adopted views
prompted by his own jealous temper, but which
ultimately were beneficial to his country. The
course of justice became steady, disorders were
suppressed, the tranquillity of the whole country
was secured; and the Commons, being no longer
oppressed by feudal power, or distracted by
domestic war, were enabled to acquire, first
wealth, then importance, and lastly freedom.
Bacon, however, attributes many of the disturb-
ances which still afflicted the country during
this reign to the neglect and distrust of the

nobility shown by the king.
The last years of Henry were disgraced by

the cruel and arbitrary exactions of which Emp-
son and Dudley were the vile and execrated
instruments. His successor, with a generous
magnanimity not uncommon in a king, sent the
collectors to the scaffold, and kept the money
in his treasury,

c 9




When love could teach a monarch to be wise,
And gospel light first dawn'd from Bulien's eyes.


THE reign of Henry the Eighth is justly
esteemed the most arbitrary in our annals. Yet
it affords many curious precedents of the autho-
rity of Parliament. One of the first of these
is the act granting tonnage and poundage.
The King had levied these duties for some time.

by his own prerogative. But in the 6th year
of his reign, he met with resistance, and was \
obliged to apply to Parliament for their sanc-
tion. The act that was passed is curious. It
condemns those who had resisted, but at the
same time grants to the king, de novo, the duties
of tonnage and poundage. Upon the whole, the

precedent, though inconsistent with itself, makes

against the power assumed by the crown. For
if the king had the right to raise those duties,
the act would have been merely declaratory.
The enactment proves, with whatever terms it

might be qualified, that the King was not en-
titled by his prerogative to levy tonnage and
poundage, and that his orders on this subject
might be resisted with impunity. So, indeed,

the act seems to have been understood; for at
the commencement of the four following reigns,
we find the duties in question regularly granted
by Parliament.*

Statutes 1 Edw. VI. c. 13. 1 Mary, st. 2. c. 18., I Eliz.
c. 20., 1 James, c. 33. By all these acts, tonnage and
poundage. are granted for life. They are all amongst the
last acts of the session. Notwithstanding these statutes, Mr.
Hume asserts, that Henry's " successors, for more than a cen-
tury, persevered in the like irregular practice, if a practice may
deserve that epithet, in which the whole nation acquiesced, and
which gave no offence. But when Charles I. attempted to
continue in the same course, which had now received the sanc-
tion of so many generations, so much were the opinions of men
altered, that a furious tempest was excited by it, and histo-
rians, partial or ignorant, still represent this measure as a most
violent and unprecedented enormity in this unhappy prince."
And with reason. These duties were not granted to Charles in
the first year of his reign, as they had been to his predecessors,
and he attempted to revive the practice which was not permitted


24 nliwity THE EIGHTH.

Another remarkable precedent is afford-
ed by an indiscreet step of Wolscy. Wish-
ing to impose a very heavy tax, he proposed to
go himself into the House of Commons, for the
purpose of silencing, by his presence, all oppo-

sition. Many were disposed to resist his ad-
mission into the house; but when that point-
had been conceded, the Speaker, Sir Thomas
More, opposed the opinion of the majority, that
he should be admitted with a few followers only.
The Speaker was of opinion that they should
receive him " with all his pomp, with his maces,
his pillars, his pole-axes, his cross, his hat, and
the great seal too." The cardinal being thus
admitted, made a long and eloquent oration
against the Kino.

of France, declared that the
king could not do otherwise than join with the
Emperor against him, and demanded of the
Commons the sum of 800,0001. as the estimated
charge of the war. " At this request," as we

to Henry VIII. Where Mr. Hume finds, that Edward, Miry,
Elizabeth, and James levied these duties, during the few months
they were not in force, or whether he has not fallen into an
error, in supposing they were levied without being granted by
parliament, I will not presume to determine.


are told by the great-grandson and biographer
of Sir Thomas More, " the house were silent ;
and when the minister demanded some reason-
able answer, every member held his peace. At
last, the Speaker, Ming on his knees, with much
reverence, excused the silence of the house,
abashed, as he said, at the sight of so noble a
personage, who was able to amaze the wisest
and most learned men in the realm ; but with
many probable arguments he endeavoured to
show the cardinal that his coming thither was
neither expedient nor agreeable to the ancient
liberties of that house :" and, in conclusion,
told him, " that except all the members could
put their several thoughts into his head, lie
alone was unable, in so weighty a matter, to
give his grace a sufficient answer. Where-
upon the cardinal, displeased with the Speaker,
suddenly rose up in a rage and departed."
The result was, that a subsidy was granted,
but much less than the cardinal had asked.

In 1526, Wolsey sent commissioners by his
own authority to levy a sixth part of the goods
of the laity, and a tenth part of the goods of
the clergy; but the commissioners were resisted,


and Henry was obliged to disavow his minister,
and annul the commission.

Yet in the same reign in which so much spirit
was shown, a magistrate of London was sent
to the wars in Scotland, where he was soon after
killed, because he had refused to contribute to
a benevolence." What a confusion of law and
custom ! how uncertain the bounds of right and
prerogative !

The arbitrary government of Henry on every
subject but that of taxes is well known. In all
his violations of law and justice he was strenu-
ously supported by his Parliament. When he
wished to rid himself of his wives, Parliament
assisted him when he desired to put to death
his prime-ministers, Parliament condemned
them without a trial; when at length he chose
th make laws by his own will only, Parliament .
gave him authority to do so. It is no wonder,
therefore, to find him holding high the privileges
of Parliament A curious instance of this oc-

curs in the case of a Mr. Ferrers, a member of
the house of commons, who was arrested for

debt. The house immediately released him,

"- Henry's History of England.


and• imprisoned those who had arrested him.
Henry upon this occasion made the following
speech to the house on the question of privi-
lege: —" He first commended their wisdom in
maintaining the privileges of their house; which
he would not have infringed in any point. He
alleged that lie, being at the head of the Parlia-
ment, and attending in his own person in the
business thereof, ought in reason to have pri-
vilege for himself and all his servants in atten-
dance on him. So that, if Ferrers had been no

burgess, but only his servant, in respect of that
he ought to have privilege as well as any other.
For I understand," says he, " that you enjoy the
same privilege, not only for yourselves, but
even for your cooks and horsekeepers. My
lord chancellor here present bath informed me,
that when he was Speaker of the lower house,
the cook of the temple was arrested in London,
on an execution upon the statute of staple.
And, because the said cook served the Speaker
in that office, he was taken out of execution by
the privilege of Parliament. Likewise the
judges have informed us, that we at no time
stand so high in our estate royal as in the time


of Parliament; when we, as head, and you as
members, are conjoined and knit together into
one body politic ; so that whatsoever is done or
offered during that time against the meanest
member of the house is judged as done against
our own person and whole court of Parliament.
The prerogative of which court is so great, that,
as our learned in the laws inform us, all acts
and processes, coming out of any other inferior
courts, must for that time cease and give place
to the highest."

Thus did Henry exalt the power of the Par-
liament. He seems upon the whole to have
been a popular tyrant; and there is some truth
in the remark of Mr. Hume that the English
of this age, like eastern slaves, were inclined
to admire those acts of violence and tyranny
Which were exercised over themselves, and at
their own expence.



Ile that would do right to religion cannot take a more ef
fectual course than by reconciling it with the happiness of
mankind. TILLOTSON.

THE Reformation in England was by no means
similar in its history to the great revolution of
men's minds which took place in Switzerland,
Scotland, and Germany. It was begun by the
King, in consequence of his desire to put away
his wife and marry another ; and this quarrel was
not only unconnected with the doctrine ofLuther,

but that doctrine was at the same time con-
demned, and its supporters capitally punished.
Had the Pope been as complying as he had
often been before, Henry VIII. would have


been, if not one of the most pure and holy
saints, one of the most faithful and zealous scr-
vants that the church of Rome could boast of
possessing. Even after the breach seemed
irreparable, propositions were made from
Rome, and were accepted by Henry", but as
his messenger did not arrive on the day fixed,
the Emperor's party in the Consistory took ad-
vantage of the failure of punctuality to obtain
a vote closing the door upon reconciliation for
ever. The messenger of the King of England
arrived only two days too late to reconcile his
master with the Pope, and arrest the progress
of religious light in this country.

The breach with the Church of Rome would
still not have led immediately to the Reform-
ation, had not Cranmer, holding the high sta-
tion of Archbishop of Canterbury, with Crom-
wel, many of the peers, and a large number
of the educated class, endeavoured to conduct
the nation, step by step, to abjure the errors
and superstitions of the Roman Catholic wor-
ship. At the same time, they were obliged,

Burnet's Hist. of Ref. v. i. p. 136.


even for the sake of the cause they favoured, to
retain many ceremonies to which the people
were attached, and which the English re-

formers copied from the Roman church, as the
Roman church had copied some of their cere-
monies from the heathen worship.

The first step which Henry took, of his own
accord, against the church of Rome after the
divorce, was the dissolution of the monasteries.
The motive which induced him to adopt this
measure, was probably a spirit of rapacity ; for
with all his power he found it a very difficult
matter to squeeze money from his subjects.
With the sum to be derived from the sale of
the monasteries, he proposed to make harbours
all round the coast of England. Those of the
nobility who had adopted the opinions of the
reformers, gave willingly into the measure, and
no doubt their zeal was quickened by the share
they got of the spoil. The abuses which pre-
vailed in the monasteries were not, however, a
groundless pretext. The relations of the visitors
who were appointed by the King to reform
the monasteries, and report their state, display



grounds for believing that they were any thing
rather than seminaries of piety and morality.*

The next steps taken in the road of reform-
ation were some directions respecting the wor-
ship of images and praying to saints, and, what
was much more important, a permission to the
people to read a translation of the Bible, in
St. Paul's Church. The people flocked to the
place, and one person was generally chosen to
read aloud to the rest, till the bishop, alarmed
at the concourse, forbade the practice, as a dis-
turbance to the service of the church. The
destruction of some of the images exposed to
the public several scandalous cheats. t

The outset of the Reformation in England
was marked by a more cruel and insupportable
religious tyranny than had ever subsisted under
the Papal dominion. In the times of popery,

Burnet, Hist. of Ref. b. i. p. 198. Mr. Lingard, however,
refuses credit to these charges : lie observes with truth that they
were ex parte, statements to which the accused had no opportunity
of replying. It would be difficult, on the other hand, to suppose
all the facts alleged to be fabrications. Monks and nuns are
not inihllible or impeccable beings.

t Note B. at the end of the volume.

the articles of faith were placed in the custody
of the priest, and the people received from him
some knowledge of the doctrines of Christianity,
somewhat more of the duties of morality, and

an unbounded reverence for the authority and
magnificence of the Church. But Henry VIII.,

partly removing the veil of ignorance from

the eyes of his people, required them not to go
a single step farther than he himself did, and
the nation was commanded by act of parliament
to believe six articles of faith therein laid down,
and whatever else the King might choose to

To punish men for their opinions in specula-
tive articles of belief, is one of the luxuries
which tyranny has invented in modern times.
Dionysius and Domitian knew nothing of it.
It was enjoyed by Henry to its full extent.
He was not, like Philip II. or Charles IX.,
merely the minister of bigotry, of which he was
himself the disciple. He taught from his own
mouth the opinions which were to regulate his

subjects ; he contained in his own breast the rule
of orthodoxy ; and he had the triumph of con-



feting the heretic whom he afterwards had the
°ratification to burn.

The religion established by Henry VIII.
was so far from being the reformed church of
Luther or of Calvin, that he prided himself, in
maintaining the Roman Catholic faith after
he had shaken off the supremacy of the Pope.
His ordinances indeed vibrated for a short time
between the old and the new religion, as he
listened more to Cranmer or to Gardiner; but
the law of the six articles, which contains the
creed he finally imposed on his people, main-
tains and confirms all the leading articles of the
Roman belief. They were as follows :

First, That, in the sacrament of the altar,
after the consecration, there remained no sub-
stance of bread and wine, but under these
forins the natural body and blood of Christ
were present. Secondly, That communion in
both kinds was not necessary to salvation to all
persons by the law of. God. Thirdly, That
priests after the order of priesthood might not
marry by the law of God. Fourthly, That vows
of chastity ought to be observed by the law of

God. Fifthly, That the use of private masses
ought to be continued; which, as it was agree-
able to God's law, so men received great benefit

by them. Sixthly, That auricular confession
was expedient and necessary, and ought to be

retained in the Church.
The actual Reformation in England was the

work of the Duke of Somerset, Protector, in
the early part of the reign of Edward VI. In
the first year of that reign, he sent, visitors to
persuade the people not to pray to saints, and
to procure that images should be broken ; that
the mass and dirges, and prayers in a foreign
language, should be taken away. By act of Par,.
liament in the same year he prohibited speaking
against giving the sacrament in both kinds; in
that and the two following years he established
the liturgy of the church of England. The
law of the six articles was repealed. The Re-
formation in England was thus made by the
crown and the aristocracy. The people, though
agitated by religious disputes, seem to have
been hardly ripe for so great a revolution. In-
surrections of a serious nature took place in
Devonshire, Norfolk, and elsewhere. The

Fl 2


preaching of the Roman Catholic priesthood
produced so strong an impression, that all the
means of authority were put in motion to coun-

teract it. The clergy were first ordered not to
preach out of their parishes without a license,
which of course was granted only to the favoured
sect; and this not proving sufficient, preaching
was altogether prohibited*;— a singular step in
the history of the Reformation !

On the other hand, Mary, on succeeding to
the throne, found it an easy matter to revive
the ancient worship. Nor did she hesitate to
call frequent new parliaments, and each went
beyond the former in the road of reconciliation.
The first refused to re-establish the law of the
six articles, but only one year afterwards, the
nation was formally reconciled to the church of
Rome, and thanked the Pope for pardoning
their long heresy. He said, with equal candour
and truth, that he ought to thank them for put-
ting a rich nation again under his dominion.

Burnet. Hist. Ref.



Sur ce sanglant theatre, oil cent heros perirent,
Sur ce thine glissant, dont cent rois descendirent,
Une femme, a ses pieds enchainant les destins,
De ]'eclat de son regne etonnait les humains:
C'etait Elizabeth ; elle dont la prudence,
De 1' Europe, a son choix fit pencher la balance,
Et fit aimer son joug a l'Anglois indompt6,
Qui ne peut ni servir, ni vivre en libert.
Ses peoples sous son regne out oublie leurs pertes;
Dc leurs troupeaux feconds leurs plaines sont couvertes,
Les guerets de leurs bles, les mers de leurs vaisseaux,
Its sont craints sur Ia terre, ils soot rois sur les eaux.
Leur flotte imperieuse, asservissant Neptune,
Des bouts de Funivers appelle Ia Fortune,
Londres jadis barbare est le centre des arts,
Le magasin du monde, et le temple de Mars.

HVNILIADE, chant 1.

QUEEN Elizabeth is the greatest of English
perhaps of all modern sovereigns. In a pe-
riod remarkable for long and sanguinary wars,
she made her name respected abroad, without

D 3


a waste of blood or treasure ; and in a time
of great political ferment, she maintained the
most absolute authority at home, without any
loss of the affections of her people. She ob-

tained glory without conquest over foreign
nations, and unlimited power without becoming
odious to her own subjects.

The means by which results so extraordinary
were obtained, comprise all the springs of her
foreign and domestic policy. Three principal
sources of her famerand success, however, may
be discerned.

First. She made herself the head of the Pro-
testant interest in Europe. To do this,

it was
not necessary to place herself in the front of a
confederacy of belligerent powers. It was suf-
ficient to give the sanction of the name of Eng.
land, a rich and united kingdom, to the cause

which she supported. The spirit and enter-
prise of her subjects, with some assistance from
her, did the rest. By this policy, also, she
pleased the popular feeling of her kingdom, and

opened a channel in which all the restless ac-
tion of her nobility and gentry might be borne
out and find a current. The national fame was


likewise a gainer by the reputation acquired by
English knights and soldiers, in fighting against

the league in France, and Philip II. in the Ne-
therlands. The country assumed her proper
station in the van of the defenders of liberty;
the blood of Sir Philip Sidney was shed in the
cause of the freedom of the world ; and tyrants
trembled at the name of Elizabeth and of

Secondly. She took care not to ask too much

money of the people. Her treaties with
Henry IV. resemble more the hard bargain of
a Swiss Canton than the generous alliance of a
powerful and friendly sovereign. She well
knew that Parliament held the purse, and
must, therefore, become absolute master of a
distressed or expensive sovereign. In her situ-

ation economy was power. Happy would it
have been for Lco X., for Charles I., for
Louis XVI., if they and their immediate pre-
decessors had been aware of this key-stone of
their fate. The Reformation, the civil wars of
England, and the revolution in France, had
their rise in disordered finances. Men will



readily submit to a bad government, but will
not easily consent to pay a dear price for it.

Thirdly. She yielded to the popular voice,
and cultivated popular favour, whenever it could
be done with dignity and safety.

No one
knew better how to buy the nation's affec-
tions with a phrase, to declare on occasion, that
her treasure was better in her subjects' purses
than in her own coffers, and that her best
guards were the affections of her people. She
could be severe and kind by turns. Thus, hav-
ing at one time excited great murmurs among
the house of commons by forbidding liberty of
speech, she soon thought proper to revoke her
commands. But nothing shows her policy
better than her conduct respecting monopolies.
There was hardly any article of which a mono-
poly was not granted by the Crown. The evil
grew so grievous that even Elizabeth's house
of commons echoed with angry speeches and
universal complaint. The Queen instantly yield-
ed. She did not acknowledge that the debates
of the House of Commons had had any weight
with her, but she informed them, through her


secretary of state, that she consented to quash
those monopolies that were illegal, and to sub-
mit to an enquiry with respect to the rest. Se-
cretary Cecil made an apology to the House for
having compared them to a school, and said, he
by no means intended to deny the freedom of

In her manners also the Queen took care to

show the greatest confidence in the people. She
knew that nothing is so pleasing as the conde-
scension of supreme power. She therefore dis-
played her greatness by the pomp of state, and
her goodness by the affability of her language.

By such means Queen Elizabeth was enabled
to maintain a stable authority over an unquiet
people. France was distracted by civil war ;
the king of Spain was employed in a bootless
and bloody quarrel with his insurgent subjects
in the Netherlands and Holland ; Germany was
shaken in every limb by the Reformation ; but
the Queen of England reaped the reward of
prudence and courage in the tranquillity and
affectionate obedience of her kingdom and

Note (C) at the end of the volume.


people. Her power was enormous. When
the Commons remonstrated, she speedily dis-
solved them ; at one time she told them not to
meddle in affairs of state : still less did she per-
mit any proposal of alteration in the church ;
and she repeatedly imprisoned, or procured to
be imprisoned, those who gainsayed her high

pleasure in these matters. * She dispensed
with those laws which were unpalatable to her;
and regulated the behaviour of her people by
ordinance and arbitrary mandate. She forbade
the cultivation of woad, as offensive to her
royal nostrils. The court of Star-Chamber,
and the court of High Commission, not being
sufficiently arbitrary, it was ordered that every
person who imported forbidden books, or
committed other offences specified, should be
punished by martial law. Those who employed
the press as an organ of discussion were speedily

condemned. Mr. John Udall, a puritan minis-
ter, charged with having written " a slanderous

and infamous libel against the Queen's Majest:r,"
was tried for a felony, and condemned. T119

Note (D) at the end of the volume.


sentence was never executed, but the poor man,
after several years' confinement, died in prison.
The judge told the jury to find him only author
of the book, for the offence had been already
determined to be felony by the judges. A
gentleman who had written a book to dissuade
the Queen from marrying a French prince, was
sentenced by a law of Queen Mary to lose his
hand. A puritan of the name of Penry was
condemned and executed for seditious papers
found in his pocket. Struck by these arbitrary
proceedings, Mr. Hume has compared the go-
vernment of Elizabeth to the modern govern-
ment of Turkey, and remarking, that in both
cases the sovereign was deprived of the power

of levying . money on his subjects, he asserts,
" that in both countries this limitation, unsup-
ported by other privileges, appears rather pre-
judicial to the people." It is needless to say
much on this fimciful analogy, so unworthy of
a great historian. Did it ever happen that a
Turkish house of commons prevailed on the
Sultan to correct the extortion of his pachas, as
the English house of commons induced Eliza-
beth to surrender the odious monopolies ? Did


Queen Elizabeth ever put to death the holders
of those monopolies without trial, in order to
seize their ill-gotten wealth ? In fact, the au-
thority of the House of Commons made some
advances during the reign of Elizabeth. The
very weight of the power that was used to crush
their remonstrances shows the strength of their

resistance. The debates of the House of Com-
mons during this reign, fill a volume and a half
of the old parliamentary history. An attentive
observer of this country at that period, would
scarcely have failed to remark, that the force of
free institutions was suspended, but not de-
stroyed, by the personal influence of Elizabeth,
and whilst he acknowledged that no sovereign
ever carried the art of reigning farther, he would
perceive that the nation had granted her a lease
for life of arbitrary power, but had not alienated
for ever the inheritance of freedom.




Every one pointed to her (Queen Elizabeth's) white hairs,
and said with that peaceable Eeontius, When this snow
melteth, there will be a flood.'

HALL'S Sermons.

DURING the latter years of Elizabeth, all classes
of people were impatient for the accession of
her successor. There is nothing so irksome to

mankind as continued demands for a long series
of years from the same person upon their ad-
miration and their gratitude. In proportion as
the novelty wears out, weariness succeeds to
wonder, and envy to weariness. There might
perhaps, however, be other causes why the
English nation should desire the reign of James.
A new spirit had arisen during the latter years
of Elizabeth, both in religion and politics. A
large party, known by the name of' Puritans, had


been formed, or rather increased and united,
who aimed at a further reformation in the
church. The Romish ceremonies, which had
been preserved in our forms of worship, found

o pardon in the: minds of this stern sect;
and had they ventured to disclose at once all
their views, the power and revenues of the
bishops would have been submitted to their
crucible. Their bold and uncompromising
principles led them also to free principles of
government; their reason quickly stripped a
king of his divinity, and their hearts raised the
subject to a level with the sovereign. Besides
the progress of these opinions, a new standard
of political right had been introduced by the
general study of Greek and Roman authors.
Not only had the glories of the ancient republics
kindled a flame in the breasts of generous men,
-but the diffusion of classical knowledge had

prepared the upper classes of society to require
more enlightened methods of proceeding, and a
more regular distribution of powers and privi-
leges than had.ever before been found necessary.

The reforms. which this new world manifestly
demanded, were naturally postponed till after

the death of Elizabeth. Her age and her repu-

tation merited, her vigour and experience en-
joined forbearance. But James, a foreign king,
without reputation of glory or of firmness, did
not enforce by his character the same submission.
A resolution seems to have been taken to insist
upon all the ancient privileges of parliament,

and all the legal liberties of the subject; and if
these should be found incompatible with the
old prerogatives of the crown, or the new pre-
tensions of the Tudor dynasty, to make the
King yield to his people, not the people to the

James soon had ample occasion to remark
the disposition of his subjects. Not all the re-
joicing which attended his march, nor the new
honours which he so lavishly threw away, could
disguise the truth. A petition from upwards of
a thousand clergymen of the puritan persuasion,
was presented to the king on his road to Lon-
don, praying for " a reformation in the church-
service, ministry, livings, and discipline." He
issued writs for the calling of a Parliament,.
accompanied with instructions to the people
what kind of persons they should elect, cow,



mantling them not to chuse outlaws, and bidding
them send the returns to his court of chancery
there to be examined and judged. In pursu-
ance of these instructions, the election of a Sir
Francis Goodwin, elected for the county of
Buckingham, an outlaw, was declared to be
void; a new writ was issued from the chancery,
and Sir John Fortescue was returned in his
room. The Commons declared the election of
Sir Francis Goodwin to be valid, and that all
matters concerning the election of members of
Parliament were cognizable in the House of

Commons only. This had been an old subject
of dispute with Queen Elizabeth; the prece-
dents were assertions on both sides, and no
decisive conclusion. The Commons had voted
that the " discussing and adjudging of such
like differences belonged only to the House ;"
and had passed a resolution that outlaws might
be. elected : the Judges had declared they could
Aot, and Queen Elizabeth had complained to
her last House of Commons that outlaws were

admitted. James, after contesting the point,
proposed that both Goodwin and Fortescue
should be set aside, and a new writ should be


issued by the warrant of the house. The right
of the Commons to decide in all matters of

election was thus admitted.
In the same Parliament, a warden of the

Fleet was arrested by the House for having im-
prisoned a member; a compensation for ward-
ship and purveyance was proposed ; and a
conference with the Lords was desired on the
subject of religion. The instructions given by
the Commons to those who were to conduct the
conference are remarkable. A relaxation is de-
sired for such as were unable to reconcile
themselves to the cross in baptism, the ring in
marriage, and the surplice; but on the subjects of
faith, and the sacraments, every person in the
kingdom is to be required by Parliament to con-
form to the law of uniformity. So far were
the ideas of those reformers from real toleration !
James was alarmed at each and all of the pre-
tensions of the Commons, and there remains a
draught of a very able address reported from
a select committee of that House, (though never
adopted by the I louse itself,) complaining of the
misinformation he had received, and entering
at large into every subject which had been dis;


cussed. They mention the ill-treatment they
had received on the subject of their privileges
during the latter years of Queen Elizabeth ;
attribute their a

cquiescence to respect for her
sex and age ; and express their surprise and
sorrow that in this first Parliament of King
James, their rights should have been more in-

vaded than ever.* The session ended unsuccess-
fully : except tonnage and poundage, the King

obtained no supply; and except on the question
of new writs, the Commons got no redress.

The alarm of the Gunpowder Plot produced
plentiful grants to the King. At the end of

December, 1609, James dissolved his parlia-
ment, and with the exception of a session of
two months in 1614, more than ten years passed
over without any sitting of Parliament. Forced
loans, arbitrary taxes from private persons, and
new monopolies supplied the wants of his
treasury in the interval. At length, in the year
1620, a parliament met, to which every English-
man oup,irc: to look back with reverence. Having

first voted the King two subsidies, and having

'Mr. Hume has laboured, but without success, to weakenthe authority of this document, which, it seems, makes againsthis theory.


discouraged all recurrence to past complaints,
they set themselves vigorously to examine the
present grievances of the subject. James ad-
journed them, and imprisoned Sir Edwin San-
dys, one of their most useful members. Undis-
mayed by this step, they petitioned the King,

on his next meeting, to defend his son-in-law

the Elector Palatine against the catholic interest
of Europe, to break off the match of his son
with Spain, and to turn his sword against thatfor-
midable power. James threatened the Commons
with punishment : they maintained their privi-
leges: he told them they were derived "from the
grace and permission of our ancestors and us."
To this pretension they returned the following
memorable answer :

" The Commons, now assembled in Parlia-
ment, being justly occasioned thereunto, con-
cerning sundry liberties, franchises, privileges,
and jurisdictions of Parliament, do make this
protestation following That the liberties,
franchises, privileges, and jurisdictions of Par-
liament, are the ancient and undoubted birth-
right and inheritance of the subjects of England ;
and the arduous and urgent affairs concerning

F 2


the King, state, and the defence of the realm, and
of the church of England, and the making and
maintenance of laws, and redress of mischiefs

and grievances, which daily happen within this
realm, arc proper subjects and matter of counsel
and debate in Parliament; and that in the hand-
ling and proceeding of those businesses, every
member of the House bath, and of right ought
to have, freedom of speech, to propound, treat,
reason, and bring to conclusion the same : that
the Commons in Parliament have like liberty
and freedom to treat of those matters, in such
order, as in their judgments shall seem fittest :
and that every such member of the said House
bath like freedom from all impeachment, im-
prisonment, and molestation (other than by the
censure of the I louse itself) for or concerning
any bill, speaking, reasoning, or declaring of
any matter or matters touching the Parliament,
or parliament business; and that if any of the
said members be complained of and questioned
for any thing said or done in Parliament, the
same is to be snowed to the King, by the advice
and assent of al.k the Commons assembled in

Parliament, before the King give credence to
any private information."

James, greatly wroth at this proceeding,


sent for the Journal of the House of Commons
to his council, and tore out the protestation
with his own hand. He dissolved the Parlia-
ment ; he imprisoned Coke, Selden, Pym,
Phillips, and Mallory, all members of the dis-
solved House of Commons. He was not aware
that the force of the protestation he tore out
was not in the parchment or the letters of a

book, but in the hearts and minds of his sub-
jects; and he little expected that, by confining
the persons of a few commoners, he was pre-
paring the imprisonment and death of his son.

If we look at the position of the adverse
parties at this time, we shall see that James was

attempting, most unseasonably, a new mode of
government. The nature of the Gothic mon-
archies was generally the same. The King, who
at first ruled together with his people in rude
harmony, came, in time, to exercise certain
powers of government which lie called preroga-
tive; and the people who, in early times, assem-
bled on every occasion to discuss grievances,
and laws, and treaties, became in the progress
of civilization divided into cities, and had their
privileges set down in general and particular

E 3


charters. Both prerogative and privilege were
liable to misconstruction, and sometimes over-
flowed their banks ; but the King always spoke

with respect of the liberties of his subjects,
even when he illegally imprisoned their persons ;
and the people professed their veneration
for monarchy, even when they deposed their
king. Queen Elizabeth, acting in this spirit,
abjured the notion of infringing the rights of her
subjects, at the same time that she occasionally
encroached upon and always confined those rights
within the narrowest limits. She acknowledged
the liberties of the people without doubt or he-
sitation but made use of her own dictionary for
the definition of the term. James attempted a

new system : he denied the existence of privileges
altogether, except by sufferance; and without
possessing the wisdom of an ordinary man, he
claimed, in an enquiring age, the infallibility of
the Deity. His sayings do him credit as a
wit ; his learning was not unbecoming a scho-
lar; but his conduct made him contemptible

as a king. How vain then to pretend that all
the ancient privileges of the English nation
were to depend upon , his nod !



There was ambition, there was sedition, there was violence ;
but no man shall persuade me that it was not the cause of
liberty on one side, and of tyranny on the other.

Loan CHATHAM, quoted by GRATTAN, (Letter to the Citizens
of Dublin, 1797.)

AN attempt has been made to throw upon the
first Parliament of Charles the charge of bad
faith and want of generosity, because they did
not, previously to all enquiry into grievances,
grant to their young king a sufficient sum to
enable him to prosecute with due vigour the war
which they had brought on by their advice and
encouragement. Now, even if it were true that
the Commons were the authors of the war, still
it would not follow that they did wrong in con-




sidering the abuses of the executive government,
before they supplied it with fresh means of
setting law and economy at defiance. A rigid
enquiry into the public means, and the pub-
lic expences was at all events justly due to the_
nation, of which they were the representatives.
But, in fact, the war was not theirs, but Bucking-.
ham's : it had been refused to the parliamentary
address of the people; and granted to the pri-
vate pique of the favourite.*

In considering the requests of the House of
Common; from the commencement of the reign,
we must

never lose sight, as they never lost
sight, of the ancient statutes of the realm. By

Magna Charta it is established, that no freeman
is to be imprisoned, or otherwise injured, but
by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the
land : therefore the judgments of the Star-
Chamber, and the commitments by the so-
vereign's pleasure were anomalous innovations.

By a law of Edward I. no taxes were to be raised

" Instead of judiciously mollifying the misunderstandings
betwixt the two houses and the king, he unadvisedly (for in

Spain he had received some af fronts upon some arrears he had

ruins die King into a war with that nation."

Memoir.* p. 13.Sir Philip Warwick was a cotirti



except by the authority of Parliament ; there-
fore forced loans, benevolences, and monopolies,
were illegal. By two laws of Edward III. par-
liaments were ordained to be held once a-year
or oftener : therefore an attempt to govern with-

out the regular advice, and continual authority
of Parliament, amounted to a subversion of the
established constitution of the state. Nor is it

to any purpose, even as an argument= ad

hominem, to say that frequent violations of all
these laws took place under the reign of par-
ticular sovereigns, especially the Tudors. The
uninterrupted practice of trial by jury, the solemn
usage of granting supplies in parliament, and

the frequent meetings of that high court, prove

that none of these rights had become obsolete,
and that the exercise of prerogatives incom-
patible with them were irregularities to be

amended, and not examples to be followed.
Lord Strafibrd, most unfortunately for him-

self; for his king, and his country, fa out of

the ranks of the friends of liberty, and encou-

raged Charles to persist in a resistance, which,
perhaps, he might otherwise have abandoned.
Devoid of all public principle, and the slave of




his malignant passions, even the patriotism of
Strafford is to be attributed to his animosity to
the Duke of Buckingham. With a mixture of

baseness and boldness seldom equalled, he made
himself the tool of his personal enemy, for the

purpose of breaking down all those safeguards

of the subject, contained in that petition of right,
which he had been amongst the foremost to ask
for and obtain. He had not the excuse of say-

that he opposed new pretensions of the

ommons, or that he had left his friends when
they went beyond the bounds of legality and
loyalty. The measures in which he assisted
were violations of those laws which it

was his
glory to have recognized and

established. He
had himself said, " We must vindicate :—what ?

new things ? no — our ancient, legal, and vital
liberties ; by reinforcing the laws enacted by
our ancestors; by setting such a stamp upon

Deputy in Ireland, he made large promises

to the Roman Catholics to serve the King's
present convenience, without any intention

of keeping them. He solicited an earldom


as the reward of his services with an impor-
tunity, that shows his ambition to have been
of the meanest kind. When in the North, he
persecuted with the utmost cruelty a Sir
David Foulis, who had omitted to pay him some
trifling mark of respect.* His conduct to
Lord Mountnorris in Ireland was of the
same kind. Upon the whole, he was a
violent, unprincipled man, destitute of any
elevation of soul ; for his request to the King
to let him die, can hardly be thought sincere;
and there can be little doubt, that, till the end
of his career, he expected to rise to supreme
power, by pressing his foot upon the necks of
the people. The intrepidity of his character, his
powers of eloquence, the virtues of his private

life, and above all, the unjust manner in which
he was condemned to death, have rescued his
name from that abhorrence, with which every
lover of his country would otherwise have re-
garded it. The execution of Strafford casts a
stain upon all parties in the state. The House
of Commons were instigated by passion ; the
House of Lords acted from fear ; and Charles,
from sonic motive or other, which, at all events,

Mitediarmid's Lives, vol. ii. p. 121.


was not the right one. The admission of the

mob to overawe the deliberation of Parliament
was a sure sign that law was about to be sub-

In a contest between a king who refuses

limitation of his prerogative, and a people who
require it, there can be no equitable agreement.
The ordinary authority of a limited king, the
power of calling out an armed force, of pro-
roguing and dissolving Parliament, cannot be
entrusted to a sovereign whose main object it is
to destroy, by. means of a party, all limitation.

William III., Anne, and the first sovereigns
of the house of Brunswick, might be safely en-
trusted with the prerogative, because no party
in the nation wished to see arbitrary power in

their hands; but Charles I. could not, because
the Cavaliers would have been

unanimous in
repealing the restrictions imposed by Parliament.

Hence, when the popular party had provided
sufficient checks for the people against a king,

they were obliged to devise fresh ones against
King Charles. After the plot in the army in
favour of the King they were obliged to put
part of the executive power in the hands of

ustees, and still more when war had actually


commenced, till the proprietor of the crown
should have discretion to use it. This forms
the only justification of the law respecting the
militia, the bill for continuing the Parliament,
and the articles of Uxbridge. It was too much
to expect that the victorious party should lay
down their arms, without securities, quietly per-
mitting the liberties they had wrested from the
crown to be again surrendered by a packed
Parliament; and their own lives to be at the
mercy of a king to whom the power of the
sword had been again entrusted. The dif-
ficulty was inseparable from the case. The
King's prerogative is so great, that nothing but
the established opinion of the whole nation can
prevent his absorbing every other authority in

the state.
Much has been said of the insincerity of

Charles. A king, who has been accustomed to
exercise despotic power, who considers that
power as the brightest jewel of his crown, and
who esteems every attempt to confine his pre-
rogative as rebellion, must necessarily 611 a sa-
crifice to his obstinacy, when his subjects have
determined that arbitrary power shall no longer

exist; and his resistance will naturally bear the


character of insincerity. For every concession
will be in his mind a concession to power, and
not to right; and he will think himself entitled,

if he becomes possessed of power, to repossess
himself of his right. Charles was not, perhaps,
in his character insincere. The entry on the
council-book at the time of the treaty of Ux-
bridge, protesting that the two Houses were not
a Parliament, in the face of his own designation
of them as such, was at the request of the
Council ; and his original wish had been not
to acknowledge the Parliament at all. When he
negociated with the Presbyterians and the army,
he was fully entitled to try, by enquiries from
each, which of the two would give the best
terms. His continuing to treat with both, till it
was too late to conclude with either, is a proof
of his arrogance, his pride, his conceit, and
his folly ; but is not of itself a conclusive ar-
gument of his insincerity. The story of the
saddle, however, with the letter in which he
wrote "that he should know in due time how

to deal with the rogues, who, instead of a silken
garter, should be fitted with a hempen cord,"
is, if genuine, a sufficient proof that his natural
sincerity was gone, and that he could no more


be trusted on any promise or oath that he

might make.%.
When Charles was . defeated by his sub-

jects, a new party had arisen, who went a step
beyond the Presbyterians, both in religion and
politics. The toleration which the Presby-
terians had originally asked, in matters of dress
and ceremonial, the Independents wished to
extend to faith and doctrine, and were thus the
earliest advocates of religious liberty. The
political freedom which the Presbyterians
hoped to enjoy under the ancient kingly go-
vernment of England, the Independents thought
would best be secured by a republican consti-
tution. Their views, with respect to the King,
were tinged by the most erroneous notions, drawn
from Scripture. They imagined the Sovereign
ought to die, that the sins of the war might be
expiated by him, and not by them. Ludlow,
in vindication of the King's execution, quotes,
with self-applause, a passage from the book of
Numbers : <G That blood defileth the land, and
the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is

See Herbert's Memoirs, Carte's Life of Ormond, and
especially the excellent preface of Baron Maseres prefixed to
the Tracts published by him.


shed therein, -but . by the blood of him that
shed it." He continues—" And, therefore, I
could not consent to the counsels of those who
were contented to leave the guilt of so much
blood upon the nation, and thereby to draw
clown the just vengeance of Cod upon all; when
it was most evident that the war had been oc
casioned by the invasion of our rights, and open
breach of our laws and constitution on the
King's part."
Strange intittuation !

Charles fell a sacrifice at last, because Crom-
well liad lost his popularity by negociating with
him, and wished to regain his credit with hi s
army. He had found reason to suspect, in the
course of the negociation, that Charles had
no real intention of being reconciled with him,
and that the democratic troops whom he com-
manded were ready to break out into mutiny
in consequence of his supposed apostacy. His
reconciliation was written in the King's blood.
Machiavel, in a chapter in which he shows, " that

a people accustomed to live under a prince, if by
any accident it becomes free, with difficulty pre-
serves its liberty," says that, " for the difficulties
and evils which must be encountered, there is no

* Ludlow's Memoirs, i, 267.


more powerful, or more effectual, or more salu-
tary, or more necessary remedy than to put to
death the sons of Brutus," that is to say, to give
a striking example of severity against those N. vho

would be the chiefs of a counter-revolution
By the nation at large, the capital punish-

ment of the King was not demanded, and very
soon lamented. When living, he was a baffled
tyrant ; when dead, he was a royal martyr.

Charles was an obstinate, prejudiced, and
foolish man, exempt from most vices, and pos-
sessing but few virtues. In politics he was a
spoiled child, and lost his temper when he was
contradicted. Hence his conduct respecting

the five members, and 'his • early appeal to


The fate of the Parliament was much more

important to the state than that of the King.
From the moment they were obliged to raise an
army, their independence was in danger. The
exclusion of the eleven members was an act of
force, destructive of all legal government. The
diminution of their numbers, till at last they

See note (E) at the end of the volume.


consisted only of eighty-six, their subordination
to military members, and their taking refuge with
the army, were the preludes to their final ex-
clusion and dissolution. The minds of men,

which had been led into the war by reverence
and attachment to legal forms and established
precedents, were now left without star or com-
pass to guide them. Many, no doubt, had
supposed that a war against Charles I. was, like
a war against Henry III., a proper method of
seeking a redress of grievances. But when they
found all established authority subverted, all
government made a matter of question and con-
jecture, they knew not where to look for liberty
or for law. In their utter inability to remedy
this confusion, they turned their eyes to the
strongest, and sought protection for,Aeir pro-
perty and their lives. Thus, the attempt to
bring human institutions at once to perfection,
to get all the protection, without any of the
oppression of authority, and, to make every

law the expression of exact truth and justice,
ended in a recurrence to the rudest invention of
a warlike tribe.





Cunctss nationes et urbes, populus, aut primores, aut
regunt ; delecta ex his et constitute reipublicx forma laudari
facilius quam evenire, vel, si evenit, baud diuturna esse potest.


Sucx was the deliberate judgment of Tacitus ;
a judgment, indeed, contradicted by the event,
but which nevertheless is marked with the
utmost perfection of thought, to which specula-
tive reasoning could reach. Indeed, the history
of the English government, whilst it finally dis-
proves, affords, in its course, ample justification
for the opinion of Tacitus. Let us first consider
what, in his profound mind, must have struck
him as an obstacle to the success of a constitu-
tion made up of monarchy, aristocracy, and
democracy. Was it the difficulty of forming a

F 2



balance between the three powers ? Surely riot.
Any schemer may lay out the plan of a consti-
tution, in which the three powers shall each
possess the authority, which in theory it ought
to have. Indeed, there is scarcely any consti-
tution which a man of sense can draw up that
will not appear more plausible in this respect
than the English. What more absurd, ci priori,
than that the King should have the sole power
of making peace and war, whilst the Commons
have the sole power of granting money ?

It is not then the difficulty of balancing
powers which has been overcome by the suc-
cessful refutation our history affords to the
dictum of Tacitus. The grand problem which
has been solved is, how the three powers shall
come into action without disturbance or con-
vulsion. Many a workman can make an au-
tomaton ; but not every one can make him
play at chess. More than one sculptor can form
a beautiful statue ; none but Prometheus could
give it life. The first disturbance

• which -is
likely to occur in such a constitution as ours, is

a collision between the King, as sovereign, and

Parliament formed of Lords and Commons, con-


siclered as his advisers. The King, by the con-
stitution, has, and must have, the power of
naming his own servants, who are to carry. on
the business of the executive government.
But if these servants violate the laws, betray
the interests, or squander the blood of their

country, it is as certain that the great council
of the nation must have the power of de-
manding and enforcing their dismissal. Two
such opposite pretensions have naturally given

rise to contest and calamity.
In the reigns of Henry III., Edward II.,

and Richard II., the misrule of the King's
servants led to the total subversion of his
authority ; and on more than one occasion,
commissioners were appointed by Parliament,
who exercised all the prerogatives which the
law has placed in the King. Such provisions
amount to a revolution in the state for the time

After the accession of the house of Tudor,

another kind of revolution took place; and the
King, in his turn, swallowed up the powers of

When Charles I. and his people began their


issensions, the great chasm, which separated

one part of the constitution from another, again

opened, and threatened destruction to the state
itself: The first opposition party, afterwards
called the Presbyterians, perceived the diffi-
culty, and they imagined the method of solving
it since so successfully adopted. Their ex-
pedient for ensuring a peaceable and long
duration to our limited monarchy was, that the
kneads of the people should become the minis-
ters of the crown. Charles accepted the pro-
posal, and named the persons to be promoted;
but was soon disgusted with their advice, which
ill accorded with his own arbitrary notions.
He plunged rashly into a civil war, and it soon
became too late to expect accommodation. New
politicians naturally arose, who maintained that
it was folly to expend so much blood for the

uncertain hope or the King's sanction to popular
men and popular measures, when the same
results might be unfailingly obtained by abolish-
ing the kingly office altogether. Thus the

prophecy of Tacitus was again accomplished ;
the nobles had overwhelmed the King and the
people; the King had domineered over the


nobles and the people; and now the people ex-
tinguished the King and the nobles. The three
powers of the realm, although each had a legal
right to its portion of authority, were still con-
founded, trampling upon, and triumphing over
one another. The constitution was still in its
chaos. The hour, in which the elements were
to be parted ; in which variety and contrast
were to subsist without disorder; when the
King and the Commons were to separate from,
and yet support each other, was not yet arrived.

Strange it is, however, that at the close of
the eighteenth century a new sect of political
theorists arose, who asked as a boon for the
people that the House of Commons should be
placed in the same state of disjunction from the
crown, in which it stood at the beginning of
the reign of Charles I. For such would be the
effect of a law prohibiting any servants of the

crown from sitting in the House of Commons,
and of leaving the choice of the ministers en-
tirely to - the pleasure, caprice, or passion of the






But certainty it can never be worth the scratch of a finger
to remove a single person, acting by an arbitrary power, in
order to set up another with the same unlimited authority.


did much for his country. He

gmented her naval glory, and made her name

ormidable to all the legitimate sovereigns, to

whom his birth was a subject of derision. The
smile on their faces was checked by the terror
in their hearts. He made use of this whole-
some intimidation to secure the liberty of fo-
reign Protestants; and before he died he per-

ceived the danger to Europe from the growth of
the French power, which he thenceforth de-

termined to restrain. At home he held the
balance, upon the whole, evenly and steadily ;

he gave to no sect the preponderance of state-
favour ; and were it not that the questionable
nature of his claim provoked rebellion, and
made severity necessary to him, he would not
have been a harsh ruler. Many would admire
his character had he been born a sovereign, and
some would praise him with more cordiality
had he never become one.

The quarrels between the army and the
Parliament, and the generals of the army
amongst themselves, resemble more nearly the
dissensions between the senate and soldiery of
Rome on the choice of an Emperor, than any
thing in modern history. They .were the ob-
vious preludes of a restoration. The Restor-
ation was in its turn naturally the presage of

cruel executions, of violated faith, of broken
promises, of gratuitous confidence, of transient
joy, and bitter disappointment. The death of
Sir Harry Vane disgraced both Clarendon and
Charles, and is one of the most cruel and per-
fidious acts in English story. Not in the course
of a long reign did the King perform any thing


to atone for the vengeance of the exile. He
trampled on the rights, and shed the best blood
of the nation, from which he had received the

crOwn: he crouched at the feet of France, at a
time when, of all others, England ought to
have resisted French ambition ; and he thus
made himself odious as a tyrant, only to become
contemptible as a slave. Yet the Restoration
once determined upon, there is much to be said
for those who have been constantly the objects
of censure for bringing in the King without
conditions. The best security for liberty was,
that the King could have no revenue without
the consent of Parliament : if that power
were wisely reserved, no condition was ne-
cessary; if it were improvidently parted with,
none could be effectual. Clarendon saw this,
and did his duty to his country. James also
saw it, and hated Clarendon for his con-

The characters of Charles II. and Shafts-
bury, the one indolent and careless, the other
violent and rash, both inconsistent and un-
principled, gave a colour of unsteadiness to
the whole reign. A profligate king, a religious


people; excess of tyranny, excess of faction ;
the worst of governments, the best of laws; the
triumph of party, the victory of despotism,
arc all to be found in this reign. It is difficult
to say for what reason Charles, a witty and

heartless , man of pleasure, embarked in the vast

undertaking of making himself absolute. Per-
haps it was only to please his brother. The
ready way of accomplishing this design, once
adopted, was, as he conceived, to obtain money
and troops from France. And as his father's
throne had been overturned by religious fana-
ticism, he proposed to lay the foundation of
his own upon a religion of blind obedience.
The scheme not running on smoothly, how-
ever, he gave it up, partly from laziness, and
partly from prudence ; contenting himself with
charitable donations from France, from time
to time. The virulent opposition of Shafts-
bury, and the attempt to exclude his brother
from the throne, again roused him to exer-
tion ; and the discovery of the Rye House Plot
afforded him a tolerable pretext for ridding
himself of all his considerable enemies. Thus,
without activity or _anxiety, by merely taking


advantage of events as they arose, he procured
for himself an authority which those of his fa-
mily who made kingcraft their occupation, never
possessed. He subdued the liberties of Eng-
land, because it gave him less trouble than to

maintain them. But the men, who could pro-
pose and carry through the House of Commons

a bill for the exclusion of the next heir from
the throne, evinced a spirit of honesty and
freedom which no hazard could quell. The
bill of exclusion was the legal warning of the

The reign of Charles II. as has been ob-
served, was an era of bad government, but of
good laws. The act of Habeas Corpus was the
greatest of these laws. It is the best security
for liberty ever devised; but it must riot be
supposed that it was invented during this reign.
The writ itself is old, and various laws mention
and confirm it, but it never was made capable
of certain application, till the time of Charles II.;

and even after that time, the island of St. Nicho-
las continued to be used as a state prison, beyond
the reach of law.

James formed his designs on another mould.


He settled in his own mind that he would make
himself an arbitrary king, and the .Roman
Catholic religion the religion of the state.
Which of these projects he intended to finish
first, I own does not seem to me to be worth
very anxious dispute, since it is very clear
that both objects were in his view. He
pursued them with that stupid obstinacy which
is so frequently fatal to a man without talent.
His want of sense was accompanied, as it
often is, with a want of heart ; and as he
could not himself reason, he felt no pity for
those who could. His opinions. appeared to
his own mind infallible truths, and he knew no
mode of convincing those who doubted, but
by executions.

The faults of the house of Stuart may all be
traced to the scholastic pedantry of James I.
Generally speaking, these sovereigns were not
tainted with the spontaneous cruelty, the unjust
caprice, or the sordid fear, which go to the form-
ation of a tyrant. But they were intimately
persuaded that they were destined to inherit
arbitrary power ; and they went on inflicting
taxes and fines, and confiscation, and death,




He who wishes to reform an ancient state, and constitute it
into a free country, ought to retain at least the shadow of the
old forms. :Nam' IAVEL.

THERE are few examples of revolutions which

have led to immediate good. This consider-
ation ought to induce men who have any in-
fluence over their countrymen to be very cau-
tious how they engage in projects which may
put to hazard all that exists, unless they have a

very near prospect of obtaining what is proposed.
The Revolution of 1688 appears to my

mind the perfection of boldness, and of pru-

The Tory party in general were not so

much alarmed at the subversion of liberty, as at
the innovations introduced in religion. " Church
and King" was their motto and their faith. In 3




from a' bigoted persuasion of their own divine
right. James I. probably drew this notion from
the old civil lawyers, and their imitators in Italy

and Germany. He bequeathed it to his son,
who lost his head in consequence of his persever-
ance in maintaining it. His grandson James,

in trying to carry it fully into execution, fell
unpitied from the throne. The whole family
have since been exiles, and the last male de-
scendant of James II. died a cardinal at Rome.
This was paying clear for the failure of an erro-
neous theory ; but England would have paid a
still dearer price had it succeeded.


their anxiety to preserve the church, they
appealed to the Prince of Orange; but they
never intended he should supplant the legiti-
mate King. The Earl of Nottingham proposed
in the House of Lords, that the Prince of Orange
should be regent. The Duchess of Marl-
borough bears testimony to her husband's sur-
prise upon finding that the crown was to be
transferred to William ; and the Earl of

Danby avowed, upon Sacheverell's trial, that
it had never been his wish or expectation that
James should be dethroned.

Had those, who invited the Prince of Orange
to England, satisfied themselves with obliging
James to call a parliament, the rest of his

reign must have passed in continual jealousy.•
It would have been still more absurd to have
given William the power, and James the title of
King. That title, which is not the private patri-
mony of an individual, can only belong properly

to the person who is qualified to exercise the
office. The Princess of Orange being the nearest
of blood, (except the infant son of James,) and
a Protestant, the Prince of Orange (himself the
nephew of James,) was the fit person to be

king. He had besides this merit in the eyes

of the Whigs, that his right to the crown, and
the right of the people to their liberties, were
thenceforth to be placed on the same foundation,

and opposed to the same Pretender.
The more violent of the Whigs were not

satisfied with changing the dynasty. They
looked to extensive reforms both in church and
state : they wished to change our ecclesiastical
laws, and remodel the House of Commons.
Others desired, and perhaps with still more ap-
parent reason to abolish the monarchy, and con-
stitute a republic. But the leaders of the Re-
volution knew, with Machiavel, that nothing so
much tends to give stability to a change of
government, as an adherence to old forms and
venerated institutions. They knew, that to
enter upon a discussion of new projects, how-
ever plausible, at such a moment, and in the
face of a large adverse party, would expose
their work to be presently overthrown, • and

'could only lead to endless conflicts, and un-
satisfactory decisions. For these reasons, the
leaders of the Revolution contented themselves
with confirming by solemn statute all the ancient


liberties of England, and protesting against
those particular violations of them, which had
taken place in the late reign. Whether the se-

curities they took were sufficient to form the basis
of a good government, or whether they were but
half-measures, satisfying the eye, but not the
appetite, we shall see, in the following chapter.

It is curious to read the conferences between
the Houses on the meaning of the words " de-
serted," and " abdicated ;" and the debate in
the Lords, whether or no there is an original
contract between King and people. The notion
of a tacit contract by which the King and his

subjects are to be guided in their relations
with each other is certainly not correct. The
King, without any contract whatever, is bound
to carry into execution the laws which are in-
trusted to his care. This is the simple duty
of his office. But if at any time the people
should require of him new liberties, he is bound
to give them the species of government which
the state of the nation, and the knowledge of

the age may demand. The foundation of every
durable government is the common consent of
the realm.


The notion of an original contract was the

theory of the friends of liberty in every part
of Europe. The Spaniards had asserted it in

the beginning of their contest with Charles V.
The only debate in the House of Lords was
between those who asserted the original con-
tract, and those who maintained the divine
right of kings. In short the question was,
whether or no kings derived their power from
the people. It was decided that they did; and
the next resolution was, in substance, that James
had abused that power, and had thereby become
amenable to the nation. For such is the clear
meaning of the vote of the two Houses, declar-
ing that James, having broken the original con-
tract between king and people, having violated
the fundamental laws, and having withdrawn
himself out of the kingdom, had abdicated the
throne, and that the throne was thereby vacant.
Nothing could be more creditable to the temper
and justice of the English people than the calm
discussion of this question; nothing More de-
cisive of their wisdom and love of freedom than
the judgment which they pronounced.

4 2




The liberties of nations are from God and nature, not from
kings. A ix:El:sox SIDNEY.

MANY definitions have been given of liberty.
Most of these deserve no notice whatever; but
there are two that, having been adopted by ce-
lebrated men, merit consideration. The first
of these is the definition of the Roman civil
lawyers, that liberty is the power of doing that
which is not forbidden by the laws. The other
is, that liberty is the power of doing all that we
ought to be allowed to do. Of these two,
it appears to me, the first includes too little,
and the second too much. If liberty consists
in being able to do what the law permits, a
despotism, established by law, and which always

works by law, is a free government. Na-

poleon, for instance, scarcely ever violated
in France the laws he had made; these laws,
however, were tyrannical. But if no country is
free except where no unjust prohibitions, and
no unnecessary penal laws are found, it is im-
possible to say that there has ever existed a free
government. What shall we say, for instance,

to that law of the Twelve Tables, by which it was
enacted that insolvent debtors should be given
up to their creditors, to he bound in fetters
and cords; and by which, though not made
slaves, they were liable to be treated with
the same or greater harshness.* Indeed, what
shall we say to the freedom of any demo-
cracy ; for they have all passed laws measured
by the rule of their own passions? Even
England, whose governing power is formed ex-
pressly from a composition of conflicting forces,
has admitted on her statute-book many an un-
just and cruel enactment. A complete definition
of liberty is perhaps impossible. Nor is liberty
all of one kind. A nation may have one kind,

s Adam, R. p. 45. A. Gellius. N. A. 1. 20. 1.

G 3


and be quite deprived of another. The greatest
advantages, however, which a community can
procure to itself, by uniting under one govern-
ment, may perhaps be comprehended under the
titles of Civil Liberty, Personal Liberty, and
Political Liberty.

By civil liberty, I mean the power of doing
that, and that only, which is not forbidden by
the laws. This definition comprehends the
security of person and of property.

By personal liberty, I mean, the power of
doing that which in itself is harmless, as speak-
ing or writing, and of which the abuse only is
criminal. Eligibility to office may also be com
prehended under this head.

By political liberty, I mean the acknow-
ledged and legal right of the people to controul
their government, or to take a share in it.
• Each of these kinds of liberty should be
allowed to exist in as great a proportion as pos-
sible. They were all comprehended by Crom-
well's representative under the names of " the

peace and security, the rights and privileges of
the people."



The laws of England arc the birthright of the people thereof ;
and all the Kings and Queens who shall ascend the throne of
this realm, ought to administer the government of the same,
according to the said laws ; and all their officers and ministers
ought to serve them respectively according to the same.

Statute 12 4: 13 Wm.. c. 2.

CIVIL liberty comprehends the security of per-
son and property. For if a man is only allowed
to do that which the law permits, he is liable
to punishment should he raise his hand against
his neighbour in violation of law ; and if he is
free to do all that the law does not forbid, he
cannot be called in question for a legal exercise

of his rights.
" In walking over a large field with about

thirty attendants and slaves, Hassan told the
owner that he had done wrong in sowing the
field with barley, as water-melons would have



grown better. He then took some melon-seed
out of his pocket, and giving it to the man,
said, ' You had better tear up the barley, and
sow this.' As the barley was nearly ripe, the
man, of course, excused himself from complying
with the Kashef's command. Then I will
sow them for you ;' said the latter, and ordered
his people immediately to tear up the crop, and
lay out the field for the reception of the melon-
seed. The boat was then loaded with the barley,
and a family thus reduced to misery, in order
that the governor might feed his horses and
camels for three days on the barley-stalks." —
Every one must feel that, in a country where
this could happen, there Can be no security for

Tavernier tells us of a king of Persia, who
ordered the heads of all the beasts he had killed
in one day's chase to be set up in the form

of a pyramid. When it was done, the archi-
tect came and told him that the pyramid was
complete, with the exception of one large head

Burckbardes Travels in Nubia, v. p.
Quart. Rev.

Nu. 44. p. 457.


for the summit. " I think yours very

.well for that," said the king ; • and to this

brutal joke sacrificed an innocent man. In
such a country there can be no security for

When Athens was in its splendour, there

arose that detestable class of men, who gained
their livelihood by informing against the best
and worthiest of their fellow-citizens, and
holding out to the rapacity of a sovereign mob,
the temptation of a rich forfeiture. It should
never be forgotten by those, who arc disposed
to admire a democratic government, that the

word sycophant had its origin in the most
popular of all democracies.

Nicophemus and Aristophanes, public func-
tionaries, were accused of malversation. On
some change in the government, they were im-
prisoned, and secretly made away with without
a trial. Their property was confiscated. The
amount disappointing the greedy accusers, a
prosecution was instituted against the brother
of the widow of Aristophanes for embezzling
the sum that was deficient. What is the lan-

guage of his advocate upon his trial ? . An ap-


peal to feelings of justice and generosity ? No:
he plainly intimates the rapacity of the judges.
" I know how difficult it will be," he says, " to
refute the received opinion of the great riches

of Nicophemus. The present scarcity of money
in the city, and the wants of the treasury which
the forfeiture has been calculated upon to sup-
ply, will operate against me."

During the reign of terror in France, men
were put to death for relationship to suspected
persons, for acquaintance with the condemned,
for having wept at the death of the King, and a
thousand vague and trivial offences.

Thus unlimited despotism and uncontrolled
democracy are found to be equally unfavourable
to the existence of civil liberty. The examples

I have adduced are extreme cases; but in every
state, where either the monarch, the aristocracy,
or the multitude, is allowed to have too

much power, civil liberty is incomplete : that
is to say, a subject of such a government cannot
be sure that, even when he obeys all the laws,
he may not be taxed or imprisoned by arbitrary

Alitford's History of Greece, vol. v, p. 96.


mandate. Witness the gabelle and the Bastile
of the..French monarchy; the prisons of Venice;

and the banishments of Florence. All these
states were professedly under the government of
laws, but to some of their citizens these laws

were but a shield of paper. It may, however,
generally be observed, that the violations of
justice in a monarchy are more frequent; in a
democracy, more striking. It seems more natu-
ral and tolerable that a king, revered as a kind
of superior being, should oppress a slave, than

that an assembly of freemen should maltreat an

Let us now see how civil liberty is provided

for in England. It is declared by the King, in
Magna Charta, the earliest and the best law
upon our statute-book, that no freeman shall be
any way destroyed, unless by the judgment of
his peers, or the law of the land— " Nil/us
fiber honzo aliquo modo destruatur, nisi per legale

judicium parium suorum, alit per legenz terrce."
This admirable law, however, was frequently
violated in times of disorder. It was renewed
very frequently ; but notwithstanding these re-
newals, and the claims of the Petition of Right,


the subject had no effectual remedy against
wrong, till a law of Charles II. provided means
for an easy execution of the ancient writ of
Habeas Corpus. This act, well known by the
name of the Habeas corpus Act, commands,
that upon written complaint from or on behalf
of any person confined in prison, except on a
charge of high treason or felony, the Lord
Chancellor and the Judges shall, upon pain of
forfeiting the sum of 5001. deliver a writ, ordering
him to be brought into court. The writ is to be
delivered, and the prisoner is to be brought into
Court within twenty days; and if his offence is
bailable, he is to be discharged upon offering
bail, and entering into a recognizance to appear
at his trial. If his offence is charged as treason
or felony, and if the prosecution is not followed
up within the second term after his commit-
ment, he is to be discharged. If no offence is
specified in the warrant of commitment, his im-
prisonment is illegal, and he Must be instantly

discharged. Besides this protection, the Judges
go into the country twice every year, with a
commission of gaol-delivery, for clearing all

the prisons. These securities, however, availed


not against James II., who employed! the
island of St. Nicholas, in Plymouth harbour, for
a state prison, in the same manner as Cromwell
had before made use of the isle of Jersey.
From the Revolution, however, the Act of

Habeas Corpus, when in operation, has always
been found of power to protect the subject. Of
the suspensions of that law, I shall speak here-
after ; I would now remark only, that the sus-
pensions prove the practical efficacy of the

Habeas Corpus Act, as much as the renewals
of Magna Charta prove the practical inefficacy
of that great compact. All the precautions
taken to prevent arbitrary imprisonment, how-
ever, would be nothing, if the trial when it
took place could be unfairly and oppressively
conducted. To prevent so dreadful an evil,
we have the institution of trial by jury. The
sheriff; a man of substance in the county,
returns from twelve to twenty-three freeholders
(usually men of property), to serve as a Grand
Jury. To them the bill of indictment, or ac-
cusation, is preferred; they examine witnesses
in support of it; and unless they find probable
grounds to proceed upon, the bill of indictment


is thrown out, and the prosecution cannot be
persisted in. To form the second, or Petty
Jury, who are to try the cause, the sheriff re-
urns the names of a number of freeholders, not

less than forty-eight, nor more than seventy-

two. The names are put into a glass, and the
twelve first drawn form the jury. At this
period, the prisoner may challenge any whom
lie can reasonably accuse of partiality, or whose
characters have been degraded by the sentence
of a court of justice. In treason, he may chal-
lenge peremptorily thirty-five. When the
trial is over, the twelve jurymen remain inclosed
together without separating or conferring with
others, till they can deliver an unanimous

Nothing can appear less perfect in theory
than the institution of trial by jury. What can
be more liable to abuse, it may be said, than
the choice given to the sheriff, an officer ap-
pointed by the crown ? What more prejudicial
to an accused person than the previous decision
of twenty-three men of wealth and figure,
formed upon hearing one side of the question
only ? 'What more likely to create confusion


of right and wrong, than to require an .unani-

mous verdict, and thus make the guilt or
innocence of a prisoner depend on the mental

incapacity, the moral obstinacy, or even the

physical strength of a single juror ? These
objections I shall not attempt to answer; the
veneration which the English have for trial by
jury, like the admiration they entertain for
Shakspeare, must be taken as a practical proof
of its excellence; and it would be as absurd to
attempt to demonstrate that a people long free
attribute their freedom to a slavish institution,
as to endeavour, like Voltaire, to prove that a
people long civilized adore barbarous and ridi-
diculous poetry. It must be admitted, how-
ever, with respect to trial by jury, that •it is
liable to be perverted in bad times, and that
the condemnation of Sydney was as violent an
act, if not more so, than the attainder of
Strafford. But, since the Revolution, the gene-
ral respect that has prevailed for right and
justice, has prevented abuse, and, upon the
whole, juries have kept the balance very even
between the safety of government and the liberty

of the subject.


Trial by jury leaves, properly speaking, but
little power to the judge. When the trial is
over, the judge recapitulates the evidence, and
explains the law upon the subject. The deci-
sion upon the facts is left entirely to the jury.
This arrangement, the best ever imagined,
leaves nothing to the judge but what is ab-
solutely required, and cannot easily be abused.
For it is necessary that some one present should
have that knowledge of the laws, which can only
be acquired by long and exclusive study : and
it is much better that be should speak on the
trial; than that he should assist at the decision;
for numbers are ready at the bar to observe lest
he misrepresent the law.

Notwithstanding this proper division, •juries,
in the time of Charles II. were controuled and
dictated to by court judges, who were appointed
and removed, in proportion to their subserviency.
To prevent this, an act passed, early in the
reign of King William, providing that judges
should be appointed during good behaviour,

and should be removable only by addresses
from both Houses of Parliament ;. an act which
completely answered its purpose of Making the


judicial power independent of the executive,
and gave an authority to the name and charac-
ter of an English judge, which it had never be-
fore possessed. We must never forget, how-
ever, that there is yet another security which is,
perhaps, more valuable than any. The trial is
public, and the accused is brought face to face

with his accuser, before the country.
Security of property is also well provided for.

By a law of Edward I. it was enacted, that no
aids or taxes should be taken from the subject,
but by common assent of the realm. What
this means we shall see, in a following chap-
ter. It having been found, notwithstanding this
law, that the King, by means of the Star Cham-
ber, was able to impose arbitrary penalties, it was
enacted in the law which abolished that tri-

bunal, that it should not be lawful for the King
in council, by English bill, or any arbitrary
way whatsoever, to call in question the property
of the subject.

The courts at Westminster-hall, the circuit
of the judges in the country, the body of the
magistrates consisting of the principal gentle-
men of the county in which they act, giving


their perpetual attendance at home, and meet-
ing in quarter and petty sessions, to administer
the law gratuitously*, are all instruments en-

gaged in executing that great article of the
Great Charter, — " We will not deny nor delay,
nor sell right or justice to any one." We have
reason to rejoice in the observation of Delolme,
who remarked with pleasure, within the precincts
of the King's residence at 'Windsor, inscribed in
an enclosed space ; " Whoever trespasses on
these grounds, will be prosecuted according to
law;" thus claiming for the King, the common
security of the poorest cottager in the land.f
Nor has it ever been found, that the exalted
station of the royal family have ever enabled
them to trespass on the property, or disturb the
private rights of individuals.

• I have inserted this word, as we hear the unpaid magistrates
so highly praised for disinterestedness. They have power, how-
ever, for their trouble, and a power which the barons of old
struggled so hard to possess and exercise.

t See note (F) at the end of the volume.




Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant nation
rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her
invincible locks; methinks I see her as an eagle during her
mighty youth, and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid-
day beam ; purging and unsealing her long abused sight at the
fountain itself of heavenly radiance ; while the whole noise of
timorous and flocking birds, with those also that love the twi-
light, flutter about, amazed at what she means, and in their en-
vious gabble would prognosticate a year of sects and schisms.


NExT to civil liberty, in the order I have laid
down, comes personal liberty. By personal
liberty, I mean the freedom from restraint upon
actions which ara not criminal in themselves.
The chief liberties of this class are the freedo .

of speaking and writing, and freedom of con-
science in matters of religion. The absence of
all exclusive personal privileges, such as signo-
rial rights, exemption from taxes, monopoly of
civil and military offices, must be reckoned also




in this class; for that which is a privilege to one
man is a restraint upon another.

The liberty of speaking and writing was al-
lowed in ancient times, not only in free states, but
wherever despotism fell into the hands of a mild
sovereign; and so palling to the ear is the con-
tinual montony of praise, that in the absolute
kingdom of Persia, where the sovereign is
thought to be the very image of the Divinity,
a jester was always kept, whose business it was
to tell the truth, and yet to tell it in such a way
that the King might, if he pleased, laugh at
the fable, and neglect the moral. The fool of
modern kings is a creature invented for the
spine purpose. Such were the devices which
sovereigns adopted for the sake of hearing a
little free observation, at a time when nations
were divided into the court and the country.
The court never spoke of the king's actions but
to praise them, and the country never spoke to
them at all. Such was still the state of Europe
when Machiavel wrote Me Prince, and he takes
it for granted, in that much debated work, that
the mass of the people can be kept wholly iam-b
rant of the real character of their sovereign.


The progress of knowledge has overturned the

basis of his whole system, and were Machiavel
to write at this day, he would probably re-
commend to kings a totally different line of

The policy pursued by the governments of

Europe, in later times, has been extremely va-
rious. Austria and Spain have assumed as a
principle that, as general freedom of discussion
must produce much calumny on private per-
sons, much seditious writing against the state,
and much matter offensive to morality and re-
ligion, it is prudent to the country, and humane
to the writers, to place the press under the
guardianship of censors appointed by the go-
vernment. By this method, it is asserted, all
fair and temperate discussion may be allowed;
libels are stifled in the egg, before they have
worked mischief; and public justice is spared the
necessity of inflicting severe punishment. Tho
government of France, without sanctioning so
strict a system of ignorance as that of Spain, re-
fused to allow publication without restraint. But
the mitigated prohibitions of the French censors,

in sonic degree contributed to spread the false no-
14 3



Lions which obtained vogue at the beginning of
their revolution. Every thing might be attacked
by an equivocal jest, although nothing could
be combated by direct reasoning ; and the able
writers of the last century soon found that the
best institutions were as open to a sneer as the
grossest abuses. General declamation, and af-
fected sentiment were allowed, till the opinions
of men fell into general confusion. At length
the throne was shaken, the altar sapped, and
the mine ready to burst under their founda-
tions, before any one had had a fair oppo•-
tunity of urging an argument in their behalf.
The policy of England has been, since the Re-

volution, completely the reverse both of the
Spanish and the French. During the reign of
Elizabeth, as we have seen, the most severe
punishments were awarded to libellers. Dur-
ing the reign of James, and the early part of
Charles I. a censorship was established by
means of a licence act. Cromwell adopted the
same policy, which was continued by Charles

and James. The licence act of the latter ex-
pired in 1694•, and has never been renewed.
The constitution of England thus deliberately,


not in the heat of the revolution itself, but
without clamour, without affectation, without

fear, and at once, adopted a free press. The
principle then sanctioned is, that, as speaking
and writing, and printing, are things of them-
selves indifferent, every person may do as he

pleases, till by writing what is calumnious or
seditious, he offends the laws. That a great
advantage is afforded to personal liberty by the
permission of a free press, is what no man can
doubt. Reflection may convince us that this
liberty is also beneficial to the community at
large. Genius can never exert its powers to
their full extent, when its flight is limited and
its direction prescribed. Truth can never be
got at, when all discussion is regulated by those
who hold the reins of government, to whom
the discovery of truth is not always acceptable.
Neither is it true, as some people imagine, that
no government can withstand the daily attacks
of the press. Men know when they are pro-
sperous, and although they love to grumble at

all that is going on, no quantity of rhetoric will
persuade a nation that is in possession of




liberty, to risk a civil war, in order to obtain a
change in the form of government. A mi-
nister may generally so manage, as either to
endure, or to overcome popular clamour. The
slanderous whisper of the Emperor of Russia's
courtiers is ten times more dangerous to a
good minister than the angry hubbub of the
King of England's people.

The right of petition is another right, by which
men are enabled to express their opinions, and to
set forth their grievances. When Charles II. was
engaged in a contest with his Parliament, this
right was much discountenanced ; and it was,
therefore, declared by the Bill of Rights :
" That it is the right of the subjects to petition
the King, and that all commitments and pro-
secutions for such petitioning are illegal." This
right is still a very important one. A few years
ago, the property-tax was overthrown, chiefly
by the petitions of the people to the House of

The rights we have now been stating, viz.
those of printing and petitioning, invest the
people with no actual power or authority. But


they are of infinite importance in controuling
and guiding the executive power. The influ-
ence of a free press, however, has never been
so thoroughly felt as during the present reign,
and, therefore, till I come to that period, I shall
defer any farther observation re specting it.


We come next to religious liberty, upon
which subject the authors of the Revolution
did as much as they could, and by their maxims

laid the foundation of much more.
We have seen how little of the spirit of

charity and forbearance mixed with the reform-
ation of Henry VIII. It is painful to think

that Cranmer continued the same severity during
the short reign of Edward, and that an unfor-
tunate woman was burnt for some incompre-
hensible refinement respecting a mystery of our

When the papal power was for the second

time overthrown by the accession of Elizabeth,
no progress was made towards the establishment
of religious liberty. From this time dates the
great schism amongst the English Protestants,
known, according to their respective parties, by
the names of Puritans and Conformists. A con-


gregation of refugees, settled at Frankfort in the
reign of Queen Mary, omitted in their worship
the Litany and some other parts of King Edward's
liturgy. A Dr. Coxe arriving there from Eng-


land, interrupted the service by a loud response.

After some contest, and some expedients not quite
worthy of the cause of religion, he succeeded in
driving his opponents from the place, and estab-
lishing the liturgy of Edward. Other congre-
gations, however, had made similar reforms,
and when the exiles returned to England, there
was an open difference between the Conformists,
among whom were Cox, Grindal, Parker, &c.
and the Puritans, who reckoned in their num-
bers, John Knox, Bale, Fox, the author of the
Book of Martyrs, &c. The chief deviations in-
troduced by the Puritans, in practice, respected
the use of the surplice, the cope, the cross in
baptism, and kneeling at the communion; but
in principle there was a much wider schism.
The conformists acknowledged the church

of Rome as a true church, though corrupted ;
and they maintained that the King, as supreme
head of the church, had authority to correct all
abuses of order and worship. The Puritans


abjured the church of Rome altogether;and con-
tended that it belonged not to the King, but to
assemblies of the reformed clergy, to pronounce

upon doctrine and worship.
It is not surprising that Elizabeth warmly

espoused the cause of the Conformists. Na-
turally inclined to the splendours of the
Roman Catholic service, and fully impressed
with the value of her authority in the
church as well as in the state, she proceeded to
punish the unsuccessful sect. In doing this,
she acted upon a principle common to both
sides — that an uniform faith, and an uniform
church were absolutely necessary. Conform-
ably to these notions, she obtained an act of
Parliament for instituting a court of High
Commission, and invested them with powers of
fine and imprisonment, which the law had not
granted. She offered bishopricks to Miles,
Coverdale, Knox, and others of the puritan
faith, but nothing could shake their constancy.
Many of the most upright reformers attested

their sincerity by their deaths. Barrowe,

Neale's History of the Puritans, vol. i. p. 144. See
note (G) at the end of the volume.


Greenwood, and Penry, were amongst the most
distinguished of the reformers capitally punished
for their religious or ecclesiastical faith.

James I. gave, very soon after his accession,
a sufficient warning that he was an enemy to
toleration. For having appointed a conference
at Hampton Court between the Conformists
and the Puritans, he took upon himself to
manage the controversy for the former, and
after three days' dispute amidst the applause and
flattery of the established clergy, he turned to
-his opponents, and said, " If this be all your
party have to object to the established religion
of this kingdom, I will make them conform, or
expel them out of the land."

He was as good as his word. The court of
I-Egh Commission required the dissenters to
appear before them, and to affirm solemnly
upon oath that which they could not conscien-
tiously believe. Ruinous fines and long impri-

sonments were the penalties of disobedience.
One person, accused of denying the divinity of
Christ, and another charged with sixteen here-
tical opinions, were burnt alive.


Cromwel l was raised by a sect, which the

first in England, perhaps in Europe, made toler-
ation a part of its doctrine. But it was a toler-
ation of opinions, like the presbyterian toleration
of vestments, intended chiefly for their own con-
venience. Cromwell himself, who probably
carried as far as any man of his day a wish for
indulgence, yet in the Instrument of Govern-
ment, after a solemn declaration in favour of
religious liberty, finishes the article by expressly
excluding papists and prelatists from the benefit
of the general freedom. Thus with liberality
in profession, the law, in fact, authorises per-

The declaration of Charles II. from Breda,

offered new hopes of a mild and conciliatory sys-
tem. But such hopes were grievously thwarted
by the laws passed soon after his accession.
Those who attended any meeting for religious
purposes " in any other manner than was al-
lowed by the liturgy or practice of the church

of England," were punished for the first offence
by 51. fine and three months imprisonment; for
the second by 101. fine and six months' imprison-
ment ; and for the third by transportation, and


death in case of return. By the Five Mile Act,
dissenting clergymen were forbidden to preach
within five miles of a market-town. During the
last years of Charles, the laws against the dis-
senters were rigorously enforced.

At length by the act of 1 William and
Mary, c. 18. intituled " An Act for exempting
their Majesties' Protestant subjects, dissent-
ing from the Church of England from the
penalties of certain laws," commonly called
the Toleration Act, all persons who took the
oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and sub-
scribed the declaration against popery, were
exempted from penalties ; and meeting houses
regularly registered, provided the service was

performed with doors unlocked, were permitted.

Since that time the presbyterians of England
have been allowed to perform their worship in
the manner which they think most acceptable to

God. At the same period an attempt was re-
newed which had been made in the reign of
Charles II. to bring about a reconciliation be-
tween the conformists and dissenters. In this

See note (•I) at the end of the volume.


pious work called the Comprehension, Tillotson
and Burnet took an earnest and christian share.
They proposed to amend the liturgy in several
points ; to divide the services ; to leave out
parts of the prayers which had given offence, and

by a few wise and reasonable concessions, to
restore to the church a large multitude of her
banished children. Articles for this purpose
were prepared; but the clergy, in convocation,
defeated these benevolent schemes, and insisted

on exclusion and discord.
Amongst the concessions made to religious

liberty, there were none in favour of the Roman
Catholics. On the contrary, new laws were
passed, of excessive severity, tending to render
the Roman Catholics poor and ignorant, thus

shutting them out, not only from all power, but

from all the avenues to power, and making
them, as it were, slaves among a nation of free-
men. Yet it must not be supposed that a nation
so humane as the English, acted in this harsh
and unusual bitterness without deep provoca-
tion. The reigns of Elizabeth, of James I., of
Charles II., and of James II., had been dis-
turbed by plots, more or less sanguinary, some


using as their means the assassination of the
sovereign, others the introduction of a foreign
army, but all tending to extinguish the Tiber-'
tics, and subdue the independence, of England.-
'Whether the precautions adopted by the Eng-
lish Parliament were wise I will not decide; but
I -am clearly of opinion they were just.
• Under the head of Personal Liberty should be

placed eligibility to offices civil and military.
The policy of the great states of the world has
been often narrow, illiberal, and unjust, upon this
branch of true freedom. Rome excluded for
Centuries her plebeian genius and valour from
the rewards due to distinguished services.
Modern France, at first by custom of adminis-
tration, and afterwards by positive edict, closed
the door of military eminence to all ambition
that was not of noble .

descent. Venice gave the
command of her fleet to her patricians, and of
her armies to strangers. England rejects all
these odious distinctions of rank and birth. The
ploughman's son may climb to the command of
her military and naval forces, to the post of
Lord High Chancellor, or the dignity of Arch-
bishop of Canterbury. In a well-known con-


ference between the Lords and Commons, it is
stated, by Lord Somers, and other managers
on the part of the Lords, that there can
scarcely be a more unhappy condition for an

Englishman, than to be rendered incapable of
serving his country in any civil or military
office. At that time Protestant Dissenters were

excluded from office by the Test and Corpora-
tion Acts. Since that time they have been
tacitly admitted, by an Indemnity Bill passed
every year, in favour of those who have omitted
to take the oaths. Of the Roman Catholics I
have already spoken.




I believe the love of political liberty is not an errror ; but, if it
is one, lam sure I shall never be converted from it, and I hope
you never will. If it be an illusion, it is one that has brought
forth more of the best qualities and exertions of the human
mind than all other causes put together ; and it serves to give
an interest in the affairs of the world, which without it would
be insipid.
Fox, Letter to one of his Friends.

THE two kinds of liberty of which we have
spoken, viz. civil and personal liberty, have
existed to a certain degree in states which we
usually term despotic. The monarchies of
modern Europe have all been more or less
governed by fixed laws, deriving their sanction
from prescription. The monarchy of Prussia,
which is altogether unlimited, allowed, from

the time of Frederick II. great latitude of reli-
gious and political discussion.

As long, however, as the supreme power of
the state is placed in the hands of one or many

over whom the people have no controul, the

tenure of civil and personal liberty must be
frail and uncertain. The only efficient remedy
against oppression is for the people to retain
a share of that supreme power in their own
possession. This is called political liberty. And
what is called a love of liberty means the wish
that a man has to have a voice in the disposal
of his own property, and in the formation of the
laws by which his natural freedom is to be re-
strained. It is a passion inspired, as Sidney
truly says, by Nature herself. In the manner of
exercising this power, and satisfying this desire
of the people, and in the portion of controul
retained by them, free states have differed; and
in these forms consist their respective constitu-
tions. Authors who have written upon these

subjects have distinguished three powers, viz.
the Legislative, the Judicial, and the Executive.
These powers, they maintain, ought to be
separated. They never have been, and never
can be so thoroughly. The judicial, indeed,
which, properly exercised, means nothing
more than applying general rules or laws to
particular cases, without any discretion, may be


so separated : and we have already seen,
that in the English Constitution this division
has been very wisely and effectually made.
The judicial power is in England independ-
ent and unconnected with any political sub-

The two other powers may be properly
called the Executive and the Deliberative.
The term Legislative implies merely making
laws, which in no state that I remember has
been totally disjoined from the Executive.
These two powers are in fact, in every consti-
tution, continually influencing and acting upon
each other. The deliberative power in England
is lodged in three authorities, one of which is
chosen by the people themselves. Of represent-
ation, generally, we have already spoken.

Nothing is of more importance to a state,
however, than to place in hands, worthy to
hold it, the power of negociating treaties; of
deciding upon foreign relations; of directing in
time of war the operations of fleets and armies;
and, in short, all that is called the Executive

Power. This power has been generally dis-
posed of in one of two ways.


The first is that of putting it into the hands

of one person, called an Emperor, Sultan, or
King, without any controul. The obvious dis-
advantage of this mode is, that talent is not
hereditary, and, as it was well put by Lord
Halifax, "no man chooses a coachman because
his father was a coachman before him." It is
a necessary consequence of this form of .govern-

ment, that the peace and security of the state
entirely depend upon one ill-educated man.
For it is extremely difficult, if not impossible,
that a king should receive a good education.
All his passions and all his follies are indulged;
his ignorance is called genius, and his imbe-
cillity wisdom. But, above all, no object can
be offered to him that can excite labour or
emulation. Other men, whether nobles or
ploughmen, can only be distinguished from

amongst their equals by the excellence of their
moral character, the superiority of their talents,
or the advantages they have derived from in-
dustry. But a King, without any exertion,
moral or intellectual, is placed above every one.
Hence, in utter dearth of all useful ambition.
he tries to be celebrated by drinking, or fiddling,

1 3

1 /8

or some other art of easy attainment; or else,
which is much worse, he aims at fame by com-
manding armies, and destroying provinces.
The state, in the mean while, totally under his
guidance, becomes weak with his weakness,
vicious with his vice, poor with his extravagance,
and wretched from his ambition. Absolute
monarchy, then, is a scheme for making one
man worse than the rest of the nation, and then
placing the whole nation under his guidance.

The other method of government, which is
at least more plausible, is that of putting the
executive power in the hands of a citizen
elected to that office for a certain period of
time, and subject to the controul of the people
at large.

The inconvenience of this method is, that
men who have once held great power of this
kind, and who have become in undisputed•pre-
eminence the first men in the state, naturally
wish to retain their power for a longer time
than it was granted, and even for their lives.
Even if they unite what is very seldom united,
a desire of performing great actions with a just

fear of infringing the liberties of their country,


yet the minds of men are naturally so suspicious,
that, no sooner has a citizen raised himself above
his fellows, than they suspect him of a desire of
making himself absolute. On one or other of
these rocks nearly all democracies have split.
Athens banished her best citizens by the ostra-
cism. Rome drove from her Camillus, Corio-
lanus, Marius, and, above all, Scipio. She
fell at last a victim to Cxsar's military power,
and his ambition to be King. Holland, after
numerous contentions, sunk at last under
the sovereignty of the Prince of Orange.
Sparta and Venice are mentioned by Machiavel

hs exceptions to the general , rule. But Venice

also bought her security dear ; for it was only
obtained by a custom of excluding from mili-
tary command all her own citizens, and giving
to strangers the richest prizes a state has to be-
stow. The method adopted by Sparta was
somewhat similar to that of England, to which

we shall now pass.
The executive power of England is placed

nominally in the hands of an hereditary King.
His powers are known and defined by law, and
are therefore less liable to be exceeded than




those of any extraordinary office not known to
the constitution. This was the argument most

ably urged by Whitelocke and his coadjutors to
the Protector Cromwell, to induce him to ac-
cept the title of King.* At the same time the

current of law, and the established reverence
paid to majesty, form a complete estopel to
any great man who might wish to make himself
absolute. So confirmed is public opinion, that
a great general never dreams of overthrowing
the liberties of his country. The Duke of

Marlborough was dismissed from his command
as easily as an ensign, and the Duke of Wel-
lington returned from all his victories and pre-
eminencies to occupy an office of little import-
ance in a cabinet, not distinguished by any
singular popularity or commanding genius.

But whilst the King's prerogative forms on
the one side an almost invincible barrier to the
ambition of any subject, who might wish to
become sovereign of the state in which he was
born a citizen, it is on the other side, quite
open to the general controul of the people.

See the conferences on this subject. They are to be found
in die Parliamentary history.


Thus the King has, by his prerogative, the
command of the army, but that army is only
maintained by virtue of a law to punish mutiny
and desertion, passed from year to year. The
King has a right to declare war; but if the
House of Commons deny supplies, he cannot
carry it on for a week. The King may make
a treaty of peace, but if it is dishonourable to
the country, the ministers rho signed it may be
impeached. Nor is the King's personal com-
mand any excuse for a wrong administration of
power. The Earl of Danby was impeached for
a letter which contained a postscript in the
King's own hand, declaring it was written by
his order. The maxim of the constitution is,
that the King cannot act without legal advisers.
And so flu is this maxim carried, that a com-
mitment by the King, although he is the foun-
tain of justice, was held to be void, because there
was no minister responsible for it.

From the doctrine of the responsibility of
ministers, it follows that they ought to enjoy
the confidence of the Commons. Otherwise
their measures will be thwarted, their promises
will be distrusted, and finding all their steps


obstructed, their efforts will be directed to the
overthrow of the constitution. This actually
happened in the reign of Charles I. and

Charles II. There was but one mode of pre-
venting a recurrence of the same evil. It was
by giving to the King a revenue so limited,

that he should always be obliged to assemble
his Parliament to carry on the ordinary ex-
pellees of his government. On this point, more
important than any provision of the Bill of

Rights, a warm contest took place in the House
of Commons. The Tories, wishing to please
the new King, argued, against all justice and
reason, that the revenue which had been
given to James for his life, belonged de jure
to William for his life. The Whigs success-
fully resisted this pretension, and passed a
vote, granting 420,0001. to the King, by
monthly payments. The Commons soon after-
wards had all the accounts of King James's
reign laid before them. It appeared that his
government, without any war, cost on an

average 1,700,0001. a-year; a revenue of
4200,0001. a-year was given to William, with
the expences and debt of a formidable war to
he provided for.


By this arrangement, the crown was made
dependent on Parliament ever after. Without
even offering any advice, by a mere symptom

of an intention to stop the supplies, the whole
system of the King might be defeated, and his
ministers dismissed from the council-board.
Hence the House of Commons has the power
to controul most certainly and effectually the
acts of the supreme magistrate. Whatever
struggles have been made since, have been made
within the House of Commons. Ambitious
men, instead of attempting, according to their
several views, to abolish the monarchy, or dis-
pense with Parliaments, have either sought to
reach the King's closet through the favour of
the people's representatives, or to serve the
crown by corrupting that assembly with the
allurements of influence, and poisoning the
sources from which their authority was derived.
And whatever may have been said of the pre-
valence of the latter of these methods of govern-
ment, it is certain that, after the revolution,
power was retained longest by those statesmen
whose political principles were stamped by the

approbation of their country. A friend of


liberty was no longer forced to the alternative
of defying the authority of his sovereign, or
perishing by the axe of the executioner ; the
same sentiments which he had spoken to the

people, he was able to repeat to the King; and
the same measures which he had recommended
as an individual member of Parliament, he was
afterwards empowered to propose, as the adviser
of his sovereign. Thus harmony was produced
between the different, and hitherto jarring parts
of our constitution ; while the means by which

that harmony was attained gave, at the same
time, a vent to emulation, liberty to the people,
authority to Parliament, and stability to the
throne. Thus the great principles of English

liberty were brought into action after the revo-
lution of 1688, whose authors, unambitious of
the fame of founding a new form of govern-
ment, obtained the nation the full benefit of those
rights and liberties, for which their ancestors
and themselves had toiled and suffered. Thus
this great work was at once a lesson to the
great to avoid oppression, and to the people to
practise moderation.

We have now gone through the different


parts of that form of government which some

bigoted and paradoxical men have had the
conceit to undervalue. Those who have been
shaken by nothing that they have read in his-
tory, and who still maintain that liberty cannot
flourish under our barbarous and feudal monar-
chy, may yet perhaps be struck by the following

passage from an impartial judge.
M. de Talleyrand, in speaking of America,

after remarking the partiality which the Ame-
ricans entertained for English maxims and
manners, goes on thus : —" Nor should one be
astonished to find this assimilation towards
England in a country, the distinguishing fea-
tures of whose form of government, whether in

the federal union, or in the separate States, are
impressed with so strong a resemblance to the •
great lineaments of the English constitution.
Upon what does individual liberty rest at this
day in America? Upon the same foundations
as English liberty ; upon the Habeas Corpus
and the trial by jury. Assist at the sittings of
Congress, and at those of the legislatures of the
separate States; attend to the discussions in the
framing of national laws: whence are taken their


quotations, their analogies, their examples ?
From the English laws ; from the customs of

Great Britain ; from the rules of Parliament.
Enter into the courts of justice : what authori-
ties do they cite ? The statutes, the judgments,
the decisions of the English courts. To no
purpose do the names of republic and of monar-
chy appear to place between the two govern-.
ments distinctions which it is not allowable to
confound : it is clear to every man who examines
his ideas to the bottom, that in the representa-
tive constitution of England, there is something
republican; as there is something monarchical
in the executive power of the Americans."




Rex sub lege.

AMONGST other cavillings at the practice of

our constitution, there has been raised a cry
against the influence of lawyers. From the
earliest times, however, that influence has
been felt, and felt most beneficially for the
country. Bracton, who was a judge in the
reign of Henry III., and much more Fortescue,
who was chief justice in that of Henry VI., are
among the earliest authorities in favour of the
liberties of the country. In the beginning of
the contest with the Stuarts, the names of Coke
and Selden appear with auspicious lustre on
the side of freedom. In the 'second contest

with the Stuarts, amongst a host of lawyers,
with the venerable Sergeant Maynard at their
head, appears the virtuous, the temperate, the


wise and venerated Somers. From him we
pass to Lord Cowper, a Whig chancellor, who
yet opposed the bill of pains and penalties
against Atterbury, as an unnecessary violation
of justice. The next in succession, as a friend
to liberty, is Lord Camden, who, by his admir-
able judgments on the question of general war-
rants, and on libel, saved the country from the
slavish doctrines with which it was threatened
to be inundated.

In the House of Commons the members who
have taken a chief part in the debates have gene-
rally been lawyers. This is the natural result of
their habits of speaking, and we see them on

one side of the House as well as on the other.
On the side of freedom we may reckon a series
containing many bright names that began before
Lord Coke, and has been continued after

It were needless to come down any lower,
were it not that I should be sorry to omit any
opportunity of expressing my admiration for
that great genius whose sword and buckler pro-
tected justice and freedom, during the disastrous
period of the French Revolution. Defended by
him, the government found, in the meanest in-


dividual whom they attacked, the tongue and
the soul of Hampden, an invincible orator, and
an undaunted patriot. May the recollection of
those contests, and those triumphs, brighten
the last clays of this illustrious man, and
kindle those who have embraced the same stu-
dies to seek for a similar inspiration !

Such instances might persuade us that the
study of the law, by giving men a better know-
ledge of their rights, gives them a stronger de-
sire to preserve them, and by affording them a
nearer view of our constitution, enables them
the better to appreciate and cherish its excel-
lencies. Unfortunately, however, there are in-

stances on the other side, of men who, attracted
by the brilliant rewards in the profession of the
law, which the Crown has to give, have made
themselves the tools of tyranny and corrup-
tion. But this is by no means an exclusive at-
tribute of lawyers. The mean Lord Strafford,
who sold his country for an office and a peer-
age, was a country gentleman ; and the false
Lord Bolingbroke, who betrayed his benefactor,
and endeavoured to restore a race of despots,
which the nation had proscribed, was a wit and

a man of fashion.

130 PARTY. 131



Party is a body of men united, for promoting, by their joint
endeavours, the national interest, upon some particular prin-
ciple, in which they are all agreed. Men thinking freely,
will, in particular instances, think differently. But still, as
the greater part of the measures which arise in the course of
public business are related to, or dependent on, some great
leading general principles in government, a man must be pe-
culiarly unfortunate in the choice of his political company if he
does not agree with them, at least nine times in ten. And this is
all that ever was required for a character of the greatest uniform-
ity and steadiness in connection. How men can proceed with-
out connection at all, is to me utterly incomprehensible. Of
what sort of materials must that man be made, how must he be
tempered and put together, who can sit whole years in Parliament,
with five hundred and fifty of his fellow-citizens, amidst the
storm of such tempestuous passions, in the sharp conflict of so
many wits and tempers, and characters, in the agitation of such
mighty questions, in the discussion of such vast and ponderous
interests, without seeing any one sort of men, whose charac-
ter, conduct, or disposition, would lead him to associate. him..
self with them, to aid and be aided in any one system of pub-
lic utility ? Braxa.

THE reign of Queen Anne is as remarkable for
the violent contentions as that of George I. is
for the complete ascendency of party. It is

worth while to consider the abets both of the
contention and the triumph. Let us, first,
however, endeavour, in a few words, to explain
the existence of party, and to vindicate the in-
tegrity of those who avow that they belong to
party. The general defence, indeed, may be
left where Mr. Burke has placed it. There
can be nothing more striking, or more sound,
than his writings on this subject. But although
his reasoning never has, and never can be
answered, a certain degree of favour still
attends the man who declares himself not to
belong to party ; as if he were clearing himself
from the imputation of dishonesty or selfish-


The division of England into two great
parties began, as I conceive, and still continues,
in consequence of wide and irreconcileable
differences of opinion.

The Tories look upon the exaltation of the
Crown as the favourite object of the State.
Allowing, as they now do, perhaps, that the
King is entrusted with his power for the public
good, they yet think that public good requires
he should be unfettered in the exercise of his

-K 2

PARTY. 133

132 PARTY.

prerogative, so far as the law permits. While
he remains within the legal bounds assigned to
him, they are extremely unwilling to controul
his power. If he steps beyond them, or places
the country in great danger, they are ready to
oppose the Crown by their votes in Parliament,
•or in any other legal manner. I t follows
from their doctrine, however, that their ten-
dency always is to support the King in the
first place, in all his measures, and to refuse
their sanction only when those measures have
placed the country in peril so imminent, that
they are obliged reluctantly to disclose their
own opinions.

The Whigs look towards the people, whose
welfare is the end and object of all government.
They maintain, that as the King's advisers are
responsible for his measures, it is the duty of
Parliament to examine and pronounce whether

those measures are wise and salutary. They
are, therefore, ready to interfere with any
exercise of the prerogative, which they think
unwise or improper ; and to insist (too
haughtily, perhaps, at times)-upon the adoption
of that line of policy which they consider

as best adapted to the wants and state of the

Such appears to me a just general represent-

ation of Whig and Tory opinions. I know
that the Tory doctrine is not now so much
avowed as formerly, but it animates more
than ever, if possible, the views and conduct of
that party.

If I have made a, fair statement, it was. in-
evitable that the two parties should separate,

and remain divided.
Let me now suppose a young member of

Parliament coming to London at the beginning
of the reign of Queen Anne. He adopts, if
you please, the general opinions of the Tories.
He votes generally, but not always, with that
party. He naturally becomes acquainted with
some of them. He talks over the questions

that are coming on for some time before. —
These conversations lead to a more intimate
union : his opinions are listened to, and his
doubts melt away in the course of amicable
discussion. Sometimes, when the measure is
one of party policy rather than of principle, he
surrenders his own opinion to that of the states-

K 3

134 PA RTY. PARTY. 135

men most respected by the society of which he
is a member. He thinks it more probable that
several able, and a large body of patriotic men,
arguing from the same principles as himself',
should form a right decision, than that he alone
in the whole House of Commons should, from
given general principles, have derived a true
conclusion. He is, in short, a party man. Thus
it is, that without any violation of conscience
party is formed, and consolidated, and men
acquire that kind of " esprit monacal" which,
according to the remark of a very sagacious
foreigner*, prevails in the political confede-
racies of England.

Let us now proceed to the effects of party

Among the bad effects of party is to be
reckoned the want of candour it necessarily
produces. Few men can enter into the heat of
political contention, backed by a body of friends,
who animate and support each other, without
attributing to their adversaries intentions and
motives of which they are no more capable than

" The Abbe Galiani.

Another evil is, that men become unwilling to
give way to the natural bent of their minds,
when their opinions would lead them to admit
any error upon which their adversaries have
insisted, or might render them liable to re-
proach for weakness and inconsistency. Obsti-
nacy in supporting wrong, because an admission
of what was right and true would give a triumph
to his adversary, has led many a minister of
England into a course most injurious for the

In attributing this evil to party, I by no
means intend to lay upon the same cause the
blame of the exaggeration which accompanies
political discussion. Such exaggeration I be-
lieve to be inevitable. It is true, indeed, that
every statesman has often occasion to weigh
with some degree of doubt the reasons for or
against a measure which he afterwards supports
or opposes, with as much warmth and con-
fidence, as if there could not be two
opinions on the subject ; but it does not follow
that it would be right or useful to produce in
public all the arguments which have gone
through his mind before he came to a decision.

K 4


What would be the effect, for instance, of the
speech Of a minister proposing an address in
support of a new war, who should lay a stress

upon the hazards it would be attended with,
and the new burthens it must infallibly pro-
duce ? Nothing, it is evident, but discourage-
ment, and perhaps a disgraceful treaty. For
the slightest words which a num lets fall in
opposition to his ultimate opinion, are of more
weight against that opinion than the strongest
arguments he can use in its favour. Those
who agree with him are all disheartened, and
those who differ from him are all encouraged.
Nor does this proceed from the factitious spirit
of party, but from nature herself Human
affairs are so constituted, that the truth scarcely
ever lies entirely on one side; and the human
mind is so formed, that it must either embrace
one side only, or sink into inaction.

Nor do I impute to party the corruption by
which votes in Parliament are obtained. Some

persons, I know, imagine that the minister has
recourse to corruption only because it is neces-
sary to strengthen himself against the Opposi-
tion. But it is evident that, in a free govern-

PARTY. 13.7

ment like ours, the ministers will always make,

use of the influence of money and patronage that
is in their hands to procure themselves ad-
herents. For a minister knows very well that
he must have adherents. He cannot reason-
ably found his administration on the support
which he may be able to obtain by his arguments
in favour of each particular measure. Now of
the two ways of procuring adherents, — the at-
tachment of interest, and that of party, —party
is by far the best. Many a man, I fear, would
abandon his opinions, and full off' from his
principles, for the sake of office, who yet will

not desert a party to which he is engaged by
passion and affection as well as by reason.

Party, therefore, instead of being the cause
of corrupt and undue influence, is often a sub-
stitute for it. Some, indeed, think it possible
that the world may be governed by pure inten-
tion and the force of argument only. But it is
well said by Mr. Wilberforce, when speaking
of religion, "Man is not a being of mere intellect.
Video ineliora Ivoboque ; deteriora sequor, is a
complaint which, alas ! we might all of us daily
utter. The slightest solicitation of appetite is

PARTY. 139138 PA R't'Y.

often able to draw us to act in opposition to
our clearest judgment, our highest interests,
and most resolute determination." " These
observations," proceeds the enlightened author,
" hold equally in every instance according to
its measure, wherein there is a call for laborious,
painful, and continued exertions, from which
we are likely to be deterred by obstacles, or
seduced by the solicitation of pleasure. 'What,
then, is to be done in the case of any such
arduous and necessary undertaking ? The
answer is obvious: — You should endeavour
not only to convince the understanding, but
also to affect the heart; and for this end
you must secure the reinforcement of the

The good effects of party in this country are
numerous and weighty. One of them is what
I have just mentioned, that it gives a sub-
stance to the shadowy opinions of politicians,
and attaches them permanently to steady and
lasting principles. The true party man finds
in • his own mind certain general rules of

Wilberforce's Practical View of Christianity, p. 60.

politics, like the general rules of morals, by
which he decides every new and doubtful case.
The belief that those principles are just, enables
him to withstand the seductions of interest, and
the ingenuity of projects : his conduct acquires
somewhat of the firmness of integrity and

The union of many in the same views

enables the party to carry measures which would
not otherwise gain attention. There is many
a proposition eminently useful, yet not cal-
culated to catch popular favour, which by
the stout and strong working of a party at
length becomes law. The waggon arrives at
last at its destination ; but a loose horse will
probably return to the place from which he

set out.
The greatest benefit of all that is conferred

by party is, perhaps, that it embodies the various
opinions of the nation for the time being.
Those opinions arc at times so violent, that had
they not a vent in Parliament they would break
the machine to pieces. Happily the people,
when they overturned Sir Robert Walpole,
placed confidence (a confidence little justified,


perhaps) in his opponents; and when Lord
North appeared to have ruined every thing, the
nation looked for safety to Lord Rockingham
and Mr. Fox. There may be a revolution in
this country ; but it is hardly possible that the
Country should not first try what may be done
by a change of counsels. The change, indeed,
may be too late to be effectual.

In reckoning up the bad effects of party, I
have not spoken of the animosities and violent
contentions it produces. Mock philosophers,
sentimental women, and effeminate men, are
always making lamentations over political divi-
sions, and contested elections.

Men of noble minds know that they are the
workshop of national liberty, and national

It is from the heat and hammering of the
stithy that freedom receives its form, its temper,
and its strength.

Let us now proceed to the history of the two
parties from the Revolution to the reign of
George I.

-We have seen that the Whigs refused to grant
King William a permanent income that might


render him independent of his people ; and he

dissolved the Parliament in 1690 with some
disgust. The next House of Commons was a
Tory one; and Sir John Trevor, a violent Tory,
was made First Commissioner of the Treasury.
He undertook to distribute bribes in such a
manner as to secure the votes of the majority ;
being the first systematic corruption after the
Revolution. Trevor was afterwards punished
for bribery in a question relating to the
Orphans Bill. There arose at this time a vio-
lent struggle between the Whigs and Tories for
the favour of the King, and the confidence of
the people. The dismissal of Monmouth and
Warrington attested and established the success
of the Tories. They were supported by the
small proprietors of land and the gentry of the
country, who feared a bias to innovation on the
part of the Whigs both in politics and religion.
On the other hand, the Whigs were esteemed
by the people as having been the original op-
posers of arbitrary power, and had the credit,

as well as the responsibility, of the new settle-
ment. In order to support it, they came forward
with their wealth in a time of embarrassment,

142 PARTY.

and also prevailed upon their friends in the city,
which was then, as in former times, a strong-
hold of liberty, to lend largely to the Government.
By these means, the Whigs attached men of
great wealth to the establishment, and dis-
tinguished themselves to their advantage from
the Tories, who were unwilling, or unable, to
advance considerable sums. Hence the King,
who had placed his confidence in Ranelagh,
Rochester, and Seymour, afterwards discovered
an inclination to trust the Whigs, placed Somers
and Shrewsbury in high situations, and gave
his tardy consent to the Triennial Bill. After
the peace of Riswick, the Whigs defended the
maintaining of the Dutch Guards, in which
perhaps they were right, though the line they
took exposed them to much popular odium.
The defeat of this favourite wish of our de-
liverer is a proof how extremely weak the royal
authority was at this period. It would not be
so easy perhaps to defend the Whig party in

their transactions respecting a new East India
Company. Still less can they escape blame for
having suffered in silence the conclusion of the
treaty of partition. By this treaty, William


imprudently trusted himself to the faith of the
French King, and unwarrantably disposed of
the whole of the Spanish monarchy during the
life of the reigning sovereign. The partition,
thus previously arranged, at once provoked
the Spaniards and enraged the Emperor. It
was rash in policy, unfounded in justice, and
impracticable in execution. With arms thus
imprudently furnished by their adversaries,
the country party violently attacked the Whigs
in the House of Commons: Orford and So-
mers were removed and disgraced: a Tory
ministry was established, and was the last of

King William.
Queen Anne came to the throne with violent

prejudices in favour of Tory politics, both in
Church and state, and severe bills against oc-
casional conformity were received with applause
by a House of Commons composed chiefly of
that party. But the natural inclinations of
the Queen yielded to the advice of Marl-
borough, who, though himself a Tory, became
convinced that Lord Rochester would not ac-
tively support the war, and that the Whigs alone


sympathized with the sentiments of King Wil-
liam, as expressed in the last speech that he
delivered to his Parliament. Feeling that a
vigorous opposition to the arms of Louis XIV.
could alone save the liberties of Europe, Marl-
borough advised his mistress to give her counte-
nance to the Whig party. Lord Cowper was
made Chancellor; but still the Queen consented,
with great reluctance, to the admission into her
councils of persons whose politics she detested ;
and year after year passed in struggles at court
to obtain the higher offices of state for Sunder-
land and Somers. It would not be just to
ascribe these demands of the Whig leaders to
the mere love of office : their ambition was
of a higher kind. They aspired to rule the
state according to their own system of policy,
and they found that all their efforts were
thwarted by the wilful negligence of the
Tories, who filled less conspicuous places in
the administration. Godolphin tells us, that
there was not a Tory in any ministerial office
who did not require to be spoken to ten
times over before he would execute any


thing that had been ordered, and then it
was done with all the difficulty and slowness
imaginable. This remark certainly goes far
to justify the importunity of the Whigs to
remove Sir C. Hedges from the post of Secre-
tary of State, in order to give him a more
permanent and profitable but less responsible

The Whigs held their power by a precarious

tenure. The Queen, originally adverse to them,
was rendered implacable by their haughty in-
vasion of the cabinet; and she was daily excited to
little acts of hostility by Mrs. Masham, who had
succeeded the Duchess of Marlborough in the
friendship and the government of her weak
head and ignoble heart. There needed only a
popular or plausible occasion for discarding . the

General who rendered the name of England
illustrious by his victories, and the statesman
whose reputation was founded equally on his
wisdom and his love of liberty. Marlborough
and Somers fell : Harley and St. John appeared :
it is thus that when the statues of gods and

See Conduct of the Duchess of Marlborough. Coxe's
Life of Marlborough.


heroes are thrown down, snakes and reptiles are

obtruded into light.
It must be owned, however, that the Whigs

gave a handle to the designs of their enemies.
The trial of Dr. Sacheverel was needless and
imprudent. Under an established government
it was not exceedingly wise to proclaim aloud
the doctrine of resistance ; nor could there be
any great danger in leaving a clergyman of no
great station to vaunt his absurdities unmo-
lested. The solemnity of an impeachment, the
marshalling of all the forces of the state against
a private individual, could not fail to excite
afresh that cry in favour of the High Church to
which the people have been so much inclined at
various times in our history, and which ought
to have been allowed to sleep in peace. In
consequence of the popularity of Sacheverel,
and the well-known opinion of the Queen, a
House of Commons was obtained completely
favourable to the Tories. And here begins the
history of those last four years of Queen Anne,
in which the press was restrained, intolerance
favoured, our allies deserted, our enemies en-
couraged, a disadvantageous peace concluded ;

PARTY. 147

and had not Queen Anne died, the Elector of
Hanover might never have been able to ascend
the throne, to which the Act of Settlement had
called him.

We have now gone over the struggles of
party during the reigns of the first two sovereigns
who reigned after the Revolution. They were
times in which political integrity was rare, and
political animosities violent, but the people
was admitted as an umpire between the con-
tending armies ; and, upon the whole, the rise
and fall of each seems to have been proportioned
to its merits. In so saying, I must except
the elevation of Harley and of St. John : men
who were base enough to flatter Marlborough
for the purpose of lulling and supplanting him,
ought to have remained in the obscurity in
which they were originally placed. With this
exception, however, the contest between the
two parties was a contest between two lines of
policy, in which the welfare of the state was in-
volved, and between two great principles, on one
or other of which the foundations of the English
government must be made to depend. Men of
great talents, vast property, and long experience,

L 2

148 PARTY.

distinguished themselves on one side or the other;
and whichever the nation leant to, more prat,
tical liberty, more personal security, and more
tranquillity from religious persecution, (not to
mention fume and consideration abroad,) were
enjoyed by the people than had ever been known
in England.



The Parliament have also power to punish any who judge
for man and not for the Lord; who respect persons or take
gifts, or any way misdemean themselves in their offices.

WHITELOCKE, Notes on the King's Writ.

Fr is absolutely necessary to the preservation of
an established form of government, that there
should exist a legal method of bringing to punish-
ment those who endeavour to subvert it. For this
reason the executive magistrate is always en-
trusted with the means of proceeding to a trial
against persons who conspire against his or
their lawful authority. Nor is it of any avail
to the rebel, to say that, if he had succeeded, he
should then have been possessed of the autho-



rity of the state : it is very true that he would ;
it may be true that he would have exercised it
better ; but until the government is dissolved,
it must, to prevent anarchy, inflict severe punish-

ments on those who stand out in open insurrec-
tion against it.

In the same way, and for the same reasons,
there must exist in a free state a method of
accusing those persons who have abused the
authority confided to them for the purpose of
usurping undue power, or corrupting the citi-
zens, or obtaining ends adverse to the general
interest of the community. In this case the
discretionary power of proceeding to trial
cannot rest with the executive magistrate ; for
he is generally the party complained of : it
must reside in the popular branch of the state.
It is therefore wisely provided in our govern-
ment, that the House of Commons should
have the right of impeachment. This extra-
ordinary power, thus confided to the "represent-
atives of the. people, enables them to denounce,
as -guilty of high treason, all.

who shall violate
the law upon this subject. It enables them to
denounce, as guilty of high crimes and misde-


meanors, all ministers of state whose conduct is
injurious to the interest of the nation. Some
very narrow-minded men, I know, have main-
tained that an impeachment can only lie against
an indictable offence; but this doctrine is in
plain contradiction to three out of four of the
impeachments which have been brought for-
ward. To take one instance only : — In the
case of the ministers who signed the Treaty of
Partition at Utrecht, the House of Commons
resolved on April 1. 1701, " That William earl
of Portland, by negotiating and concluding the
Treaty of Partition, (which was destructive to
the trade of this kingdom, and dangerous to the
peace of Europe,) is guilty and shall be im-
peached of high crimes and misdemeanours."—
Now what petty jury could take upon them to
say that a treaty was destructive to the trade of
England ; or to bring in a verdict of guilty, on a
charge of endangering the peace of Europe ?

The same thing may be said of the impeach-
ments against Oxford and Bolingbroke for
signing the Treaty of Utrecht. Those who
argue that impeachments can only be brought
for an indictable offence, say, " it is true a jury

L 4


could not try these offences; but that is only
an objection to the jurisdiction; every mis-
conduct in office is a misdemeanour at common.
law." This answer, it is evident, is a mere
evasion ; it is only saying that every wrong is

a misdemeanour, but that a great part of these
misdemeanours can only be tried in Parliament.

It is impossible for the King to stop the pro-
gress of an impeachment. His pardon under
the great seal cannot be pleaded in bar of trial.
His prerogative of prorogation, and even of dis-
solution may suspend, but does not put an end
to the -proceedings. These two securities for
justice were contended for during the trial of the
Earl of Danby, in the reign of Charles II.; the
first was established, at the Revolution, and the
second confirmed during the impeachment of
Mr. Hastings.

It is much more difficult, in a free state, to find
impartial judges than to find courageous accusers.
There can hardly be any body of men who are
at once qualified to form an opinion on political
questions, and who are not disqualified by having
formed one before they are called upon to judge.
This latter fault, it must be owned, is found in


our . House of Lords. It is difficult, if not impos-

sible, to bring a principal minister before them,
on whose conduct they have not already pro-
nounced judgment in their own minds. For
this reason we find, that when the Lords are in
favour of the accused, Lords and Commons
generally conspire to produce a quarrel between
the Houses, and thus avoid giving judgment.
So it happened in the cases of Lord Danby, Lord
Somers, and many others. The experience of
later times has not made impeachments more
easy in the trial, or more impartial in judg;-
merit. The impeachment of Hastings was a

long punishment ; and in the last case of im-
peachment the Lords were found to vote more

from a sense of gratitude, or a, sense of friend-
ship, than a sense of justice ; and some came to
the decision without having heard a word of the

Bills of attainder and bills of pains and penal-

ties, are of a very different nature from impeach-
ments. They have been generally, if not always,
used on occasions of great moment and urgency.
Two circumstances seem to be requisite to all
bills of this kind. First, That it is impossible


to convict the offender by due course of law.
Secondly, That his escape would be in the
highest degree injurious to the state. Great in-
deed must be the mischief that would arise from
the impunity of a criminal, to overbalance the
evil of shaking the common security of the sub-
ject, disturbing the regular course of justice,
and affording an example of inflicting a punish-
ment on one who cannot be convicted of a crime.

Examples of bills of attainder and bills of
pains and penalties are unfortunately too nu-
merous on our statute-book. But, in early
times, bills of attainder, however unjust their
operation in particular instances, had not the
character they have at present. Originally,
the high court of Parliament was not a court
only in name, but was chiefly employed in de-
ciding causes, and particularly in judging all
the great criminals whose power placed them
beyond the reach of a jury. The offences for
which they were condemned were, however,
offences of which a jury might legally have
taken cognizance. Thus it was with the

Spencers, the adherents of Richard III., and
others. The reign of Henry VIII. opens to

us a more alarming scene. A bill of attainder
was passed against Empson and Dudley, at
the accession of that King, for the exactions
they had used under the reign of his father.
As these exactions had been sanctioned by
an act of Parliament, there was surely great
injustice in condemning those who had acted
under it to a capital punishment. The act
of attainder was also unnecessary ; for Empson
and Dudley had been previously convicted
of treason at Guildhall, for an attempt to
maintain themselves by force.* So strong was
the popular feeling against them, however, that
they probably met with as little justice from a
jury as from a parliament.

In the same reign of Henry VIII. Queen
Catherine Howard was condemned to lose her
head, by a bill of attainder, for incontinency
before her marriage with the King. When the
bill was in progress, the Lords, by the desire
of Henry, sent a message to her, to ask her if
she had any thing to say in her defence. She,
however, confessed her guilt; and in those

" State Trials. Burnet's Hist. Reformation.


times she did not think of complaining that she
was to suffer death for a crime unknown to the

In the year' 1:53D, a most dangerous pre-
cedent was made. The Marchioness of Exeter
and the Countess. of Salisbury refusing to an-
swer the accusation. against them, were attainted
by act of Parliament. "About the justice of
doing this," says Burnet, . 46 there was some
debate ; and to clear it, Cromwel sent for the
judges, and asked their opinions, Whether a
man might be attainted in Parliament, without
being brought to make his answer. ? They said
it was a dangerous question. That the Parlia-
ment ought to be an example to all inferior
courts ; and that when any person was charged
with a crime, he, by the common rule of justice
and equity should be heard to plead for himself.
But the Parliament, being the supreme court of
the nation, what way soever they proceeded, it
must be good in law ; and it could never be
questioned whether the party was brought to
answer or not." The precedent thus begun

* Burnet, Hist. Ref. p. 26..


was made worse, as all bad precedents are, the
following year. The person was, however,
well chosen : it was Cromwel himself. Instead of
declining to plead, he petitioned to be heard ;
but his request was refused, and an attainder
passed on the mere assertion of his enemies.

Of the bill of attainder against Strafford I
have before spoken with indignation. There
can be no excuse for the manner in which the
bill was forced through. It must be observed,
however, that few cases of state-necessity can
be imagined so strong as that which could be
urged for the condemnation of Strafford. Yet
some of the mcderate among the Presbyterian
party were for sparing his life ; they were hur-
ried on by others of a more bloody tempera-
ment. The bill of banishment against Claren-
don had this strong foundation, that he had with-
drawn himself from justice : this plea seems to
me to be sufficient for such a punishment. Nor
am I disposed to blame the act of attainder against
Sir John Fenwick. A person accused of high
treason, and about to be tried in the clue course
of law for that offence, who pretends he is going
to reveal his treason, and takes advantage of


his fraud to spirit away a witness, seems to me
to have removed himself beyond the pale of all
rule of law and justice. He has endeavoured
to defeat justice, at least as much as if he had
himself gone beyond sea.

There is not so much to be said in favour of
the bill of pains and penalties against Atterbury.
It is said that Walpole could have brought
evidence enough against him to have convicted
him of high treason in a court of law. Whether
he could have done so or not, it remains as a stain
upon his memory for ever, that, for the purpose
of banishing this busy priest, he should have
induced Parliament to condemn him upon the
evidence of letters not in his own hand, and after
the death of the person supposed to have written

The protest signed by Lord Cowper and
thirty-nine other peers on this occasion contains
a sound and satisfactory doctrine on the subject
of all bills of this nature.

" We are of opinion," say these Lords, "that
no law ought to be passed on purpose to enact
that any one be guilty in law, and punished as
such, but where such an extraordinary proceed-


ing is evidently necessary for the preservation

of the state."
" We clearly take it to be a very strong ob-

jection to this mode of proceeding, that rules of
law made for the security of the subject, are of
no use to him in it, and that the conclusion
from hence is very strong ; that, therefore, it

ought not to be taken up, but where clearly
necessary, as before affirmed ; and we do desire
to explain ourselves so far, upon the cases of

necessity excepted, as to say we do not intend
to include a necessity, arising purely from an
impossibility of convicting any other way."

160 GEORGE THE rinsr. 161



I shall continue, during the short remainder of my life,
most steadily attached to the ancient freedom of my country,
(as it was practically enjoyed under those honest old gentle-
men, George the First and Second), and your grateful

Mr. 1-19 RNE TooKE's Address to Me Electors of Westminster,
June 26. 1802.

Tnr. accession of George I. was the era
when government by party was fully esta-
blished in England. During the reign of Wil-
liam, Whigs and Tories had been employed to-
gether by the King; and although the distinc-
tions of a Whig ministry and a Tory ministry
were more decidedly marked during the reign
of Anne, yet Marlborough and Godolphin, who
formed great part of the strength of the 'Whig
ministry, were Tories; and Harley and St.
John, who put themselves at the head of the

Tory administration, had held; a short time

before, subordinate offices under the 'Whigs.
But the complete downfal of the Tory Ad-
ministration, who had signed the peace of
Utrecht, and the suspicion which attached to
the whole party, that they favoured the claim of

James II.'s son, against that of the House of

Hanover, placed George I. entirely in the
hands of the Whigs. At the same period, the
financial difficulties which followed the wind-
ing up of the war, and the great practical ta-
lents of Walpole as a statesman, contributed
to give a greater importance to the House of

Commons than ever, and to place within that
House, if I may so express myself, the centre
of gravity of the state. Besides these causes,
Speaker Onslow was of opinion, that much
weight and authority were added to the House
of Commons by the Septennial Act.
. We now find, therefore, a party ruling the

country through the House of Commons; a
species of government which has been assailed
with vehemence, with plausibility, eloquence,
and wit, by Swift, and Bolingbroke, and the



whole party of Tories in the reigns of George 1.
and II.; by Lord Bute and the King's friends
in the commencement of the late reign, and by a
party of parliamentary reformers in our own

time. The sum of their objection to it is this, —
That it mixes and confounds the functions of the
King with those of the House of Commons;

that the King hereby loses his prerogative of
choosing his own servants, and becomes a slave
to his powerful subjects, whilst the House of
Commons, by interfering in the executive go-.

vernment, open their door to corruption ; and,
instead of being the vigilant guardians of the
public purse, become the accomplices of an
ambitious oligarchy. Now this objection, if
good, is fatal to our whole constitution; for we
have seen, in reviewing the reign of Charles I.,
that a Kingwhose servants are quite independent
of Parliament, and a Parliament which is ad-
verse to all abuses of power, cannot exist to-
gether : submission from one or other of the
parties, or civil war, must ensue.

The question, then, for us to consider, is not:
whether the government of the two first Princes


of the House of Brunswick was a corruption of

the English constitution, but whether it was

upon the whole a good or an evil.
The first consideration that must strike us is,

that, upon the whole, the liberty of the subject
was secure. The chief exceptions to this re-

mark are, the suspension of the Habeas Corpus

Act on Layer's plot, and the attainder of Bishop
Atterbury. Of the latter I have already spoken.

The suspension of the Habeas Cmpus .Act on

Layer's plot has always seemed to me -unneces-
sary; but it must not be forgotten that all the chief
Jacobites of England were at that time intriguing

at Rome to bring in the Pretender.
Another remark nearly allied to the former

is, that the triumph of party was- not marked

in England as it has been in nearly every re-
public that ever existed, ancient or modern, by
a cruel and unsparing persecution of their ad-
versaries. The history of the divisions of the
parties of aristocracy and democracy in the minor
states of Greece, — of the parties of Marius and
Sylla, at Rome, — of the Guelfs and the Ghibe,
lines, the Bianchi and the Neri, in Italy, — of
the Catholics and the klugonots in France, — is

m 2


a history of proscriptions, confiscations, mas-

sacres, and murders : but in the reign of
the first Prince of the House of Hanover,
although many of the Tories were known to
be adverse to the protestant settlement, yet
little was done against them, besides the banish-
ment of Bolingbroke and Ormond. The tem-
per of Walpole inclined him to leave his
enemies alone. He knew of many who corre-
sponded with the Pretender, of whom he took
no notice. It is said that, one day, Wyndham,
or Shippen, made a violent speech, which excited
a murmur, and a cry of " Tower I" " Tower!"
among his opponents. Sir Robert Walpole rose :
" I know the honourable gentleman expects me
to move that he be sent to the Tower ; I shall
disappoint his expectations, however, for I shall
do no such thing."

The strength of Walpole's administration
lying chiefly with the House of Lords and the
aristocratic part of the country, he was enabled

to carry on for many years a pacific system.
Peace, at all times a blessing, was then most
desirable. The politic union between the King
of England and the Regent of France, took


away all the fears which had prevailed during
the reign of Louis XIV., of overgrown am-
bition, and a king forced upon us by foreign
powers. Upon the whole, the people had
reason to be satisfied with their government
under the administration of Walpole. Montes-
quieu and Voltaire, who have most contributed
to spread an admiration of the English constitu-
tion over the Continent, and to hold it out as a
fit model for imitation, took their notions of it
from this period. At the same time there was a
fault in the general course of Walpole's govern-
ment, the most fatal of any to the permanence
of a spirit of freedom in a nation. With the
view of soothing the angry passions which dis-
turbed the early part of his career, he gradually
weakened, and had nearly extinguished, every
large and liberal feeling in politics. To maintain
" our happy establishment" was the sole end of
his administration ; an object which, however
praiseworthy, was little calculated to excite
vigour of thought, or energy of character. For
this, however, no blame is justly imputable to
him. 'What we may complain of, with truth is,
that in his choice of means he showed a low



opinion of human nature, and addressed himself
rather to the interested views of individuals,
than to any public sense of the benefit of the
whole. Thus he went on depraving the times

in which he lived, and the times again deprav-
ing him, till the state was all festered with
gangrene and corruption.

The administration of Walpole fell at last,
however, chiefly by unjust clamours about mer-

• chant-ships, and a general impatience for change.
/nTo government can withstand a combination of
-the stupid and the foolish. In England the
'Tory party had always had the benefit of the
weight and influence of the stupid part of the
-natiOn. The unlettered squires, with heads
muddled by their own ale, embraced with
cordiality the notion of the divine right of
'kings. Addison has given a perfect picture of
one of • them in a number of The Freeholder.
'His dog that has the sagacity to worry a dis-
senter, his complaints of trade and commerce,
'and his resolution to resist any government that

is not for non-resistance, are characteristic of

the Tory country-gentleman of that •day..
Dien at the time of the dissolution of Walpole's


administration, Pulteney, in talking of the dis-
posal of places said, that the Tories, not being
men of calculation, or acquainted with foreign
languages, did not pretend to the higher offices of
the state. The Whigs, on the other hand, had in
their origin derived some support from the folly
of mankind. The wisdom of Somers, and the
steady patriotism of Lord Cavendish, did not
excite more enthusiasm than the handsome
person of the Duke of Monmouth ; arid the
story of the warming-pan brought as many, if
not more adherents to their cause, than the

Habeas Corpus Act and the Bill of Rights.
The foolish were, however, naturally estranged
from Walpole by his calm conduct, and the un-
pretending wisdom of his measures. They
united themselves with the stupid, and formed,

as might have been expected, an overwhelming

majority in the -nation.
It is astonishing to see, after twenty-five

years of power, how little could be brought
against Walpole, even when his enemies were
in power. His conduct in the South Sea busi-
ness, appears upon the whole to have been
extremely judicious. Corruption in boroughs,



168 G.E0DGE


to an extent at which their posterity would not
blush, is related by the Secret Committee. Large
sums, however, are unaccounted for, which his
agents persisted in keeping secret. The at-
tempt to indemnify them from all proceedings,
in order to get evidence from them against Wal-
pole, failed in the House of Lords.

The effect of the long stagnation of public
spirit in the country is lamentably seen in
the changes of ministry which took place after

.the resignation of Sir R. Walpole. Principle

seems to have made no part of the dis-
tinctions of statesmen ; and all political con-
tention was reduced to a scramble for office
between little bands of men, whose rank and
fortune only rendered their conduct more con-
temptible.. Lord Melcombe's Diary affords a
faithful and very disgusting picture of the
manner in which these small factions rose al-
ternately one upon the other, forming every day

new combinations, and varying their connexions
in every possible way, without ever deviating

into an honest and consistent line of public

It is sing ular,and at the same
time melancholy

to observe, how much influence was retained by
-a person so totally devoid of clearness of head,
and even of common manly spirit, as the Duke
of Newcastle. By intriguing to overturn Wal-
pole, his colleague, and by bargaining in
boroughs, he became the most powerful amongst
the Whigs. But his incapacity and dishonesty
ruined the party, who did not for a long time
recover the disgrace of having served under

such a chief.
There is one man, however, whose life forms

an exception to these remarks, and who did
much to waken the country from the lethargy
into which it was plunged. I mean, of course,
Lord Chatham. He was in almost every re-

spect the reverse of Walpole. -Walpole lowered

the tone of public men, till it became more like
that of merchants than of statesmen : Chatham
raised his voice against selfishness and corrup-
tion, and his invectives even now make the
cheeks tingle with indignation. Walpole acted
upon the love of ease, the prudence, and the
timidity of mankind : Chatham appealed to
their energy, their integrity, and their love of
freedom. It must be acknowledged, that Wa17


pole had some merits which Lord Chatham

wanted. He pursued from the beginning one
steady and, upon the whole, useful line of state,
policy : Lord Chatham acted from the impulse
of the moment ; and if he followed his feeling
of the day be little cared how inconsistent it
might be with his former sentiments. Walpole
seemed to aim at what was most expedient,
Chatham at what was most striking ; and thus
the former secured the guarantee of France to the

Protestant succession, and the latter attacked
her possessions and humbled her name. The

one looked to prosperity, the other to glory.
Sir Robert Walpole was successful nearly to the
end of his life. The cause of his long power is to
be found both in the steadiness ofhis conduct, and
his care to unite together a large and respected
party in thvour of his government. Lord

Chatham succeeded in nothing after the ac-
cession of George III. He had neither suf-
ficient- consistency of character to inspire

confidence in those who were to act with

him, nor did he set a proper value on the im-
portance of party in this country. If Walpole

had thought- too much of individuals, Lord


Chatham consulted them too little. Provided

he made up his mind to a measure, he seems
to have thought that he could always find men
to carry it into effect. His temper made him
reject or quarrel with those who were best
fitted by integrity and general views to assist
him, but who differed with him in the smallest
point; and he sought aid from others who flat-

tered, ridiculed, betrayed, and supplanted him.
Hence it was that the political character of

England was not raised out of the mire into
which it had fallen, by the splendid talents,
generous virtues, and lofty views of the first

William Pitt, Earl of Chatham.





Moreover, I have a maxim, that the extinction of party is the
origin (21.

Letter of HORACE WALPOLE to Mr. Montague, Dec. 11. 1760.

WHEN George III. came to the throne, little
alteration took place in the external government
of the country. An act was passed to continue
the judges in their offices notwithstanding the
demise of the crown, and although it was obvious
that such an act diminished in no way the power
of George III., but on the contrary, took
away one means of influence from the successor,
if that successor should act in opposition to the
reigning king, yet this measure was represented

as a signal addition on the part of the sovereign
to the liberties of the subject.

The important feature of the new reign was
the experiment of a new project of government.
Among other disastrous consequences of the
want of public spirit in England, was a total
neglect of the political education of the young
King; and hence he came to be placed in the
hands of men who had but recently shaken
from theii-minda• their allegiance to the house
Of Stuart. It occurred to these persons that,
in" the general blight of political virtue and
public confidence, an opportunity was given for
raising the household standard of the sovereign,
and rallying around. his person the old relics of
the Jacobite party, with the addition of all, who,
in the' calculation of chances, might think •the
favour Of the Sovereign as good an interest as
the countenance of any minister whatever. To)
form and `consolidate- thiS party they studiously
spread all the doctrines which place the whole
virtue of a monarchy in the supreme sanctity of
the royal person. They endeavoured to obtain

a ceitain number of seats in the House of
Commons, which, - with the help of a propor-
tiehate quantity of patronage, might make the

im 7


tenure of any ministry uncertain. They made
loud professions of honesty and of conscience,
which wholly consisted in an obstinate adherence
to certain narrow-minded tenets, and which
did not prevent the most shameful violations of
sincerity and truth, whenever it suited their
purpose to deceive and to betray. They assidu-
ously planted their maxims of government in
the 'mind of their royal pupil, and as he was
naturally slow, obedient, good-tempered, and
firm, he too easily admitted, and too constantly
retained the lessons of his early masters.

The system had flourished for some years in
full vigour, when Mr. Burke gave the powerful
exposition, and the sound and statesmanlike
refutation of it, which we read in the "Thoughts
on the present Discontents." This, which is
one of the few standard works on the science
of government which the world possesses, did
not and could not immediately destroy the
monster which it attacked. But it rendered a

service to this country scarcely less essential,
by instilling into the minds of all young
politicians, who at that time were greatly


increasing in number throughout the country,
those wise and beneficial principles which
their Whig ancestors had practised, but which
the old intriguers of that day had entirely


M 8




Sons quelque id6e de legerete et d'inconsideration qu'on se
plaise a nous representer le peuple, j'ai (prouve'l que souvent
it embrasse a la vérite, certaines vues, vers lesquelles it se porte
avec clialeur, ou pinta aver fureur; mais que ces vues ont
pourtant toujours pour objet quelque interet commun, et
d'une certaine gen&alinl, jamais un interet purement par-
ticulier, comme peuvent etre les ressentimens et les passions
d'un seul homme, on d'un petit nombre de personnes. Je
hasarde m'eme de dire, que sur ce point, le jugc le moms
faillible est la voix de ce peuple meme. SULLY, 1.1 4.

ONE of the conditions necessary for the main-
tenance of that species of freedom which ex-
cludes all arbitrary power, is, that the people
should be ready to take part with the weak
oppressed, against the powerful oppressor.
Madame de Stael remarks of the French people
of her own day, that they always perceive im-

mediately where the power is, and always
range themselves on that side. The truth of
this observation may be demonstrated by re-
ferring to the events of the Revolution, or
attending to what happens in any one year in
France. The quality essential to freedom,
however, is one directly the reverse. The •
people ought to feel a continual jealousy of
power; and when they see any one man borne
down unjustly, they ought to perceive imme-
diately, that the cause of that man is the cause
of the whole nation.

This is or was happily the case with the Eng-
lish people. Nothing but the sympathy of the
people could have raised to such importance
and celebrity the cause of Hampden, when he
refused to pay a few shillings to the crown.
The imprisonment of a Mr. Francis Jenkes, for
making a patriotic speech in the Common
Council of London, was the cause of the
Habeas Corpus Act. Mr. Wilkes, though de-
tested and despised by good men, as a hypocrite
in public and a profligate in private life, was de-
fended by all who loved their country, when
arbitrary measures were resorted to for the pur-


61.1A0 .



pose of oppressing him. He obtained at length
large damages against the ministers who had
abused their power, and put an end to general
warrants for ever. So, I trust, it may always
be, when any individual, however humble,
however odious, or however despicable, is pur-
sued by illegal, or unjust methods !

I 7!.1





Liberque ac sapiens. PERMS.

EVERT wise state has found it expedient to
transfer a large portion of power out of the
hands of the people, for whom all power is
held, and to entrust it to a single person,
or select council ; for a very numerous body
are found incapable of transacting public af-
fairs with that secrecy, or of deciding upon
them with that celerity which the foreign re-
lations of a state so often require. Hence the
great council of Venice was, by the advice of
the wisest senators, excluded by degrees from

N 2


all deliberations which required delicacy and
dispatch.* Hence the republic of Holland
found it necessary to name a few persons, to
whom all foreign negociations were confided.t

But for whatever purpose power may be
confided to a few persons, or however worthy
they may be of the trust reposed in them,
human nature is such, that there ought always
to remain with the people an extreme remedy
by which they may punish the abuse, or restrain
the power itself that has been abused. In
states really free this extreme remedy will al-
ways be found to exist, either by custom or by
law. Thus the Roman people, when they felt
themselves aggrieved, retired to the Mons Sacer,
or refused to be inscribed as soldiers in the
army that was about to march against the fo-
reign enemy. There could not be apparently
two more dangerous expedients; but such was
the moderation of the Roman people, that I
know not they ever pushed their resistance be-
yond the bounds of reason. Indeed, the long
period that elapsed before the plebeians could

Darn, Hist. de Venise.

t Sir W. Temple.

be elected consuls, and the long period which

followed that before any plebeian was really
elected, are sufficient proofs of their temperance,
both in advancing a claim, and in making use of
a right.

The English have, in the same manner, an
extreme remedy. If the King abuses a just, or
uses an oppressive power, the representatives of

the people have it in their option to refuse the
money required to carry on the government.
This remedy, however, was for a long time
fitr from being so efficacious as those employed
by the Roman people. In spite of the resist-
ance of the nation, Charles II. and James found
means, with the aid of packed Parliaments, and
drawing from the French treasury, to slip the
bridle from their necks. In fact, until the
expulsion of the Stuarts, our Kings enjoyed a
revenue independent of Parliament, which en-
abled them to keep their Commons out of
sight in ordinary times. The parliamentary
check was made perfect at the Revolution ;
but the influence of the Crown in the body
which ought to exercise it, has continually
deadened its effect. The voice of the people,



however, has sometimes enforced the constitu-
tional interference of the House of Commons.
The most remarkable instance, perhaps, of
the use of this right took place at the end of
the American war. The House of Commons
declared by a resolution, that the farther
prosecution of offensive war on the continent
of North America, tended to weaken this
country, and to prevent a reconciliation with
America. An address, in conformity to this
vote, having been carried to the throne; and the
King having returned a gracious answer, com-
plying with the address, the House of Com-
mons voted, that they should consider as
enemies of His Majesty and this country all
those who should advise the farther prosecu-
tion of the war in North America, for the pur-
pose of reducing the revolted colonies to obe-
dience by force. In this, as in a few other
instances, although the word supplies is not
mentioned, it must always be understood ; and
there is, in fact, a tacit menace of refusing
supplies in every interference of tote House

of Commons with the exercise of the preroga-


This power, it is quite clear, would enable the
House of Commons, if so disposed, to declare
themselves the sovereigns, and to take away

every efficient prerogative from the Crown;
but such is the moderation of the English

people, that they have never desired such an
increase of the power of their representatives;
nor did they, at the Revolution, bate a jot of the
powers necessary to maintain the monarchy.
For I am convinced, the true reason that the
King and the House of Lords maintain their

prerogative and privileges unimpaired, lies more

in the temper of the nation, than, as some would
teach us, in the present composition, of the
House of Commons. The country has a deep-

rooted affection for kingly government, and
would highly resent any attempt to change
or destroy this key-stone of the constitution.
There appears to me, I must confess, as great an
attachment to monarchy in the people of
Yorkshire, as in the proprietor of Old Sarum,
and fully as much loyalty in the farmers of

Norfolk, as in the corporation of Devizes.





Men are naturally propense to corruption ; and if he, whose
will and interest it is to corrupt them, be furnished with the
means, he will never fail to do it. Power, honours, riches,
and the pleasures that attend them, are the baits by which men
are drawn to prefer a personal interest before the public good ;
and the number of those who covet them is so great, that he
who abounds in them will be able to gain so many to his ser-
vice as shall be sufficient to subdue the rest. It is hard to find
a tyranny in the world that has not been introduced this way.


THE celebrated resolution of 1780, " That the
influence of the Crown has increased, is in-
creasing, and ought to be diminished," may
seem to carry its own refutation along with it.

A House of Commons that can vote a resolution
so hostile to the crown, it may be said, can have
little reason to dread ifs influence. This objec-

tion, however, would be more specious than
solid. The influence of the crown acts by slow,
but continual pressure; the opinion of the
people by sudden impulse. Thus a series of
measures injurious to the interests and honour
of the country are persisted in for a long time
by mere force of authority and the private ad-
vantages which individuals acquire by support-
ing the system. In government, more than
any thing else, possession is nine points of the
law. At length the evil is carried beyond
bearing: the people see they have been misled
and benighted, and determine to dismiss their
guides. But even then the holders of power
have innumerable means of softening, perhaps
of totally averting their disgrace, and they
proceed for sonic time longer conducting the
nation through fresh morasses, and involving

the state in new and greater perils. Thus it

was in 1780, when the party who had carried
the abstract resolution before mentioned, found
themselves in a minority a few weeks after, when
they attempted to deduce from it a practical



It was in the reign of Charles II. that the
plan of influencing the members of the Lower
House by gifts and favours of the crown was
first systematically framed. The name of
" Pensioner Parliament," given to the House

of Commons which sate for seventeen years
without dissolution, is a sufficient index of the
general opinion concerning it. Many of the
poorer members sold their vote for a very small
gratuity. Offices and &yours were granted to
the speakers most worth buying; the rest were
glad of a sum of money. The trifling sum of
12,0001. was allowed by Lord Clifford for the
purpose of buying members. This was in-

creased by Lord Danby. By the report of
a committee of secrecy appointed in 1678,
it appears that many members received money
or favours of one kind or another for their

There can be no doubt that the practice was
continued during the reign of William. Sir
John Trevor was convicted, when Speaker,
of receiving bribes from the City of London,
to procure the passing of the Orphans' Bill.


Mr. Hungerford was expelled for the same

These facts show how unjust it is to charge

Walpole with having been the first who go-
verned England by corruption. That he carried
corruption to a great extent can hardly be
doubted. He did it with an openness and a
coarseness which created great scandal, and
which, perhaps, was more pernicious than the
vice itself. He is said to have affirmed that he
did not care who made members of parliament,
so long as he was allowed to deal with them
when they were made. Perhaps these stories
were unfounded; but they threw discredit on the

At the time of' Lord North's administration

the influence of the Crown was exerted in the
most profuse, most shameful, and most degrad-
ing manner. The friends and favourites of the
minister were allowed to have a share in the loan,
which they sold the moment after at a gain of ten
per cent."' Mr. Fox, in his speeches, more than
once accuses Lord North of having devoted

' Rose's Influence of the Crown.


900,0001. of a loan to conciliate votes. It is
remarkable that Mr. Fox allows at the same
time, that it is natural that a minister, in making

a loan, should favour his own friends, and that
it is not to be expected any minister will ever
act otherwise. He does not venture to blame
Lord North for this practice, but only for the
abuse of it. Some members of parliament
actually received at that time a sum of money
to induce them to vote. Every office of govern-
ment was a scene of confusion, waste, and pro-
digality, admirably adapted for the interests of
all who wished to enrich themselves at the
expellee of honour, patriotism, and conscience.
A cry for reform in the expenditure, louder
than that which had overturned 'Walpole, was
raised; and produced the resolution mentioned
at the beginning of -the chapter. The wish of
the people extended to parliamentary as well as

economical reform. Mr. Pitt skilfully made
himself the organ of both, and on the strength
of his professions obtained that credit from the
people which was denied to the party who,

after a long and unpopular opposition to the
American war, had lost the fruits of their


exertions by joining the minister who carried
it on.

Since the close of the American war, Mr.
Burke's Bills, and the regulations of Lord Shel-
burne, have made a diminution of 216 places.
Mr.Pitt abolished 200 more. * In 1810 about
357 were computed to have been created or
added, and those not computed, or since added,
would make up more than 416. Since 1783,
also, we have the Stationery Office, the Police
Establishment in London, a new department in
the War Office, and a great number of new
Boards and commissioners, as Arcot Debts,
Danish Prizes, Education, &c. Since 1810, too,
we have two or three new sets of commissioners,
a Vice-Chancellor, an Auditor of the Civil List,

and several more.
On the other side, since 1783 thirty-two

placernen have been excluded by Mr. Burke's
Bills, and to these Mr. Rose adds fifteen
contractors. Some sinecures too have been
lately abolished.

Rose on the Influence of the Crown. Ed. Review,
vol. xvi. p. 191.



Upwards of seventy members of.tbe House
of Commons hold places, of which the salaries
are altogether 156,0001. a-year. By the act
of Queen Anne, persons accepting places are to
vacate their seats, and all persons holding
offices created since that act are rendered in-
capable of sitting in Parliament. This last
provision, however, has been set aside in the
instances of the third Secretary of State, and of
four members of the Board of Controul. The
number of placemen in the , House of Commons,
however, although too great, is not sufficient
to make an undue influence preponderate. It
is the expenditure of twenty millions in our
military and civil establishments, and of four
millions in the collection of taxes, the increase
in the number of our colonies, the doubling
and tripling of salaries, the compensations and
superannuations which are allowed so fre-
quently for purposes of patronage, the im-
mense extent of our accounts, the organized
adaptation of all offices and salaries to con-
ciliate members of parliament, — it is all
these things which have increased, and are
increasing — what Blackstone calls the " per-


suasive influence" of the crown, and which
may undermine our liberties, if they are not
met with a new and determined spirit in the

people, neither to be cajoled by specious false-
hoods, nor fatigued by repeated evasions.




The discretion of a judge is the law of tyrants: it is
always unknown : it is different in different men : it is casual,
and depends upon constitution, temper, passion. In the best,
it is oftentimes caprice : in the worst it is every vice, folly, and
passion to which human nature is liable.


THEREare some advantages in the absolute
monarchies of Europe over the free government
of England on the subject of criminal law.
On the one hand, it must be confessed, the free
government will be sooner impelled by the pro-
gress of enlightened opinions to abolish torture
and cruel modes of punishment; and will be
forced to relinquish, as contrary to its freedom, all
iniquitous proceedings against state-criminals,

and all bloody penalties on religious dissent.
But, on the other hand, it must be said that the

legislators of a free state are so much more in-

terested in the heating race of political dis-
cussion, that criminal law meets with little at-
tention; and that the Parliament of England,
when they do make laws on the subject, are far
from being as impartial as an absolute sovereign ;
for they are continually the objects of the
burglaries and larcenies against which they di-

rect their thunder. Hence it is, that every man
judging that to be the most deadly offence by
which he is himself a sufferer, the Parliament

has permitted the statute-book • to be loaded

with the penalty of death for upwards of two

hundred offences. Among the crimes, so
punishable, we find the offences of cutting
down a tree; being found with the face black-
ened upon the high road ; being in com-
pany with the persons called gipseys. These
have continued to be capital crimes till the year
1820, and one, if not two of them, still re-

main so.
These extreme cases are not, however, the

most mischievous. The. absurdity of the law is
4n antidote to its. cruelty. There are .other
offences, punishable with , death. which are.



really in themselves very serious crimes, but
not of so atrocious a character as to reconcile

any humane man to their being visited with
so heavy a retribution. Of this kind we"e
many offences against the bankrupt laws ;
privately stealing from the person; stealing from
a dwelling-house to the amount of 40s.; pri-
vately stealing from a shop to the amount of
5s. and many others. The evils produced by
these severe laws are not, however, as might

have been expected, a very great excess of
severe punishment, and general insensibility
in the people.

The two evils peculiarly felt are, first, as it
is justly stated by Mr. Justice Blackstone, there
is a general disposition not to convict of a crime
to which an inordinate punishment is affixed.
A juryman who had often served on bankrupt
cases told me the juries on which he served
would never take the law from Lord Ellen-
borough, although he was probably in the right,
but persisted in affixing their own erroneous
but merciful interpretation.

Mr. Harmer, who has been solicitor for two
thousand persons condemned to death, informed


the Criminal Law Committee that an old offender
always preferred being tried for a capital offence,
as it gave him a better chance of an acquittal.
It is singular that something of the same kind
happened at Athens. A criminal when convict-
ed, was asked before the people how he would
be punished, and an old offender always named
the most severe punishment to excite compassion
in his judges. It was partly because Socrates,
instead of following this custom, replied that his
sentence ought to be, to be kept all his life at
the expellee of the state, that he was condemned

to death.
Notwithstanding this well-known disposition

of human nature, so accustomed are we to rely
on the efficacy of severe punishments that in

any discussion on repealing a criminal law, the

question in men's minds always is, not whether
the offence is actually prevented by that law, but
whether the offence is sufficiently grave to de-
serve that it should be prevented by so severe
a method. The members of both Houses of
Parliament consult their own sense of this mat-
ter instead of looking to that of jurymen.

Secondly. Another great evil is the .uncer-
o 2


tainty of the law. Two men, for instance, are
tried at Launceston for sheep-stealing; both are
found guilty, one is condemned to death, and
the other to be transported for seven years to
Botany Bay. It is evident there is no propor-
tion in the punishments. What is the reason ?
The one has a good character, the other a bad
one. So that in England a man is hanged, not
for the crime of which he is found guilty, but
for the general course of his life. Now this is
a matter far above any earthly tribunal. It leads
to injustice, cruelty, and confusion. It makes
the punishment of death worse than useless ; for
every criminal will hope that his character will

not be found so bad as to make him forfeit his
life. It puts a man upon his trial for actions
which the law does not profess to try, and upon
which he cannot be prepared with a defence.
Thus it was, that a. man of notoriously bad cha-

racter, after a course of larceny and burglary,
was at last, to the great surprise of his neigh-
bours, his jury, and his prosecutor, hanged for
cutting down young trees.

There is at present greater reason than has
ever yet been given to hope for a reform in


the criminal law. Many persons however
thought it extremely dangerous to admit that
our present law was in such a state as to require
reform. Absolute sovereigns have not been
affected by this danger. The King of Prussia
(Frederick the Great), during part of his long
reign, placed his whole system of law under dis-
cussion, and during a remaining portion a
project of new laws was under the eye of the
public for general criticism and consideration: the
King thus taking away from the authority of the
old law without substituting anything in its place.
Many of the sovereigns of Europe have altered
their whole criminal jurisprudence. Even the
Pope has within the last few years promulgated a
new code on this subject. Why is it, that all these
governments have undertaken the task without
fear or hesitation, and that a party in England
is so fearful of any innovation whatever in our
old system ? The reason I believe to be this, —
that a very large portion of the higher ranks
in England consisting of the Tories, never have
understood, and never will understand the real
security of the English government. These

persons seeing authority continually attacked,
0 3


imagine that the throne will be subverted, if
any part of its hangings are removed. They
are not aware that the real foundation of roy-
alty and aristocracy in England is the opinion
the people have of their utility to the whole,

and that the retaining any absurd or bigoted
or cruel institution instead of preserving, un-
dermines and destroys the respect due to the
assemblies which have the charge of improving
and amending as well as of strengthening and
preserving the volume of our laws.

With respect. to the criminal law, my own
notions of reform would go a great way. There
cannot be many offences to which capital punish-
ment ought to be attached.

All wilful acts tending directly to inflict death
ought to be punished with death. Murder,
stabbing, shooting at, burning of dwelling-
houses, or buildings contiguous to dwelling-
houses, setting fire to the clothes of a person,
are crimes of this description. Highway rob-

bery, and burglary, without any of these cir-
cumstances, when it is clear that property and
not life has been attacked, might more properly

he punished by long confinement, than by exe-

The question of secondary punishments is
perhaps the most difficult of any. The words
of Mr. Harmer afford perhaps the best rule
shortly expressed on this subject. " If I were
asked," said this gentleman, in an examination
before a committee of the House of Commons,

44 what description of punishments would, in
my opinion, be productive of benefit, I would
answer, Such as might force the delinquent
into a course of discipline wholly opposite to
his habits. Idleness is assuredly a part of his
character, which industry would counteract.

Set him to labour. He is probably debauched,
and abstinence would be advantageous to both
his mind and his body : apply it. He has
been accustomed to dissolute companions, sepa-
ration from whom would essentially ameliorate
him : keep him in solitude. He has hitherto

rioted in uncontrolled liberty of action. I pro-
pose that he should be subjected to restraint,
and the observance of a proper decorum." —
The only remark I would make upon these
suggestions is, that if the delinquent were sub-
jected to vigilant inspection, it would not be
necessary to keep him in solitude.

o 4




As it is in the body, so it is in the mind; practice makes
it what it is; and most even of those excellencies, which are
looked on as natural endowments, will be found, when
examined into more narrowly, to be the product of exercise,
and to be raised to that pitch only by repeated actions.

LOCKE, 91". the Conduct of the Understanding.

THE education of youth, which has employed
so many pens, which has produced so many
sublime writings, and which has undergone so
little practical alteration, is not to be thoroughly
discussed in a few words. Sonic remarks, sug-
gested rather by observation of the world, than
by any original speculation, may, perhaps, be

Men of enlarged views, and hearts glow-
ing with the love of mankind, have often con-

ceived that youth might be brought up to
learn more knowledge and less vice than are

distributed to them at the public schools of
England. With this project in their heads, and
the most laudable love of their children in their
hearts, many parents have given their children

a private education. They have taught them
ten branches of knowledge instead of two, and
have preserved their morals and their health
during the first eighteen, or perhaps twenty
years of their life. But how often have we
seen these promising flowers drop off without
being succeeded by fruit in due season ? The
lessons which are learnt by a boy in the linger-
ing and lifeless manner of a private study, with-

out the excitement of emulation, perhaps without

the fear of correction, make no lasting impression
on the mind. The restraint of a nursery of

twenty years, gives a zest to the pleasures and
the follies for an indulgence in which boyhood
alone can be any palliation. The period when
the talents and strength of the man ought to be
unfolded is wasted in the new pursuits of idle-
ness and debauchery. At the same time, the

habits contracted at home, where the young



patrician met with no equal, unfit him for the
rub of the great world, and fix for ever those
defects of temper which early contradiction and
early society might have extirpated. Such is
often, though not always, the result of an edu-
cation, intended to produce a limitless monster,
and laid out with the hope of giving its un-
happy object a pre-eminence over the ill-trained
generation of his equals and contemporaries.
The mistake in these instances seems to arise

from the want of considering, that the object of
education is not only to store the mind, but to

form the character. It is of little use that a
boy has a smattering of mineralogy, and is very
fluent at botanical names; it will he of no avail
to him to talk of argil and polyandria, if
he cries when he loses at marbles, and is
lifeless as a statue when he is obliged to play
a game at cricket. Now a public school does
form the character. It brings a boy from

home, where he is a darling, where his folly is
wit, and his obstinacy spirit, to a place where
he takes rank according to his real powers and
talents. If he is sulky, he is neglected ; if he
is angry, he gets a box on the ear. His cba-


meter in short is prepared for the buffetings of
grown men ; for the fagging of a lawyer, or the

fighting of a soldier. Now, this is of much more
importance than the acquisition of mere know-
ledge. Many men only begin to acquire their

knowledge between twenty and thirty, few men
change their characters after twenty. Con-

sidering the question in this view, it is of little
importance to enumerate the names of eminent
men in England, who have not been brought
up at public schools. Many of these rose from
middle life, and to them my argument does not
apply. The son of a tradesman or a farmer
meets buffetings enough, without being sent to
any school; he is ordered to serve a customer, or
look after the haymakers; and learns practical
life much sooner than any gentleman's son

can possibly do.
It being conceded that a boy of high ex-

pectations ought to be brought up at school,
I am not disposed to contend that the educa-
tion of our public schools is exactly what is
right, or that it is all that is right. These
schools were instituted at a time when all know-


ledge was contained in the Greek and Latin
classics, and no sound opinion or polished taste
was to be found out of the learned languages.
From this groundwork, however, the moderns
have raised a prodigious edifice, both of science
and of literature, of the whole of which our
school education, from eight to eighteen, takes
no notice whatever. ' Not that I would cram the
mind of a boy with the whipt cream of botany
and mineralogy. The first thing to learn is how
to learn : jaut apprendre d apprendre ;" and •
for this it is requisite that the first thing taught

should be difficult to learn, and necessarily re-
tained when it is learnt. I know nothing so
good for this purpose as the Latin grammar.
Boys, it is said, do not understand it. What
does this signify ? They do understand that a
nominative case goes before the verb ; and they
come in a short time to learn where each part
of speech must be placed, and how it depends
upon another. If Mr. Locke is right in his

estimate of the importance of words, this is a
point of great consequence. And who can
doubt that he is right? It is to

a dogged ap-


placation to the Latin grammar that I very much

attribute the precision of men, when compared

to women, in this country.
The Latin grammar learnt, I do not sec that

it is judicious or proper to make a boy read
Ovid. I do not know that I should give him
Ovid at all at school. Easy prose, then the
poetry of Virgil, some arithmetic, the Greek
grammar, Homer, some geometry, and a little
geography, might come in their due order.
Above all, I would make the boys translate into

Latin an abridgement of the history of Eng-
land, and of the first and last volumes of Black-
stone. Many men go through the House of
Commons totally ignorant that a prisoner must
be furnished with a list of witnesses in cases of

high treason.
French and Italian should be taught, if at all,

very sparingly. It will be sufficient to lay a
foundation for learning, at a more mature age,
those parts of knowledge that arc likely to be
sought voluntarily, and may be acquired easily.

I know not whether it would be practicable
to introduce improvements of the kind I have
mentioned into our great public schools. If the


masters should resist it, it seems to me that an
excellent opportunity for making a good school
is afforded by the Military College at Sand-
hurst. It is very right that a certain number
of the sons of men who have died for their
country should be brought up at the expellee
of the state ; but it is a very wrong thing to
bring up a set of young men for military service,
totally separate from all other classes of the
community. " In a land of liberty," says
Blackstone, "it is extremely dangerous to make
a distinct order of the profession of arms. The
laws, therefore, and constitution of these king-
doms know no such state as that of a per-
petual standing soldier, bred up to no other
profession than that of war."

What could be easier than to make a foun-
dation for a certain number, with the qualifica-
tions of being the sons of poor officers, or
officers' widows, who might afterwards choose
their profession ; and to institute at the same

place a school where education might be con-
ducted in a manner suitable to the knowledge
of the present age?

As it is at present, there is no doubt that

women of the higher ranks have much more

knowledge and information, when their educa-
tion is finished, than men have. But I cannot
see any reason why our men should not, whilst
they have the advantages of public schools, at
the same time be able to do a sum in the rule-
of-three, and make themselves masters of the
fact, that James I. was not the son of Queen

208 POOR LAWS. 209



Generally it is to be foreseen e. provided) that the popu-
lation of a kingdom, especially if it he not mown down by
wars, exceed nut the stock of the kingdom, by which it is to be

THERE is nothing, perhaps, in the whole state
of England more threatening to its tranquillity
and the permanence of its constitution than the
present administration of the poor-laws. The
perversion which has been made of them from
the original meaning of the statute of Elizabeth,
has at length fallen most heavily upon those
who thought to draw from it a selfish gain.

The statute of the 49th of Elizabeth seems to
have had its rise in a general increase of idle
poor throughout the country. The notion that

this increase was owing to the dissolution of the
monasteries is now given up ; it having been

clearly shown that the same complaint was
made in Spain about the same time. * It is
more probable that the introduction of legal
order, and the cessation of internal war not
long before, both in England and Spain,
threw upon society a great number of vaga-
bonds, who were accustomed to live by vagrancy
and plunder. The act of Elizabeth directed
that the old and impotent should be provided
for, and that the strong and healthy should be
set to work. The first of these two directions
is the law of a tender and humane people, and
will, I hope, ever remain upon the statute-book
of England. The second direction is not
equally easy of execution. A few casual beg-
gars, indeed, might be provided for in this way ;
but when, from stoppage of trade, or any other
cause, there exists a superabundant population,
it is manifest that any work that could he clone
by the unemployed, would only be augmenting

* This important fact was first brought to light in the Edin-
burgh Review.



the stock of a market already overflowing.

When this was found to be the case, the over-
seers, instead of furnishing work, supplied the
unemployed with money. With the convul-
sions of commerce, the vast increase of taxes,
and above all, in the years of scarcity a new
difficulty arose: — men who had large families
found themselves unable to support them, al-
though they were themselves employed, from
the very low rate of wages compared with that
of food. Instead of a rise of wages, it was agreed
that a certain sum of money should be paid
for the support of each child at the house
of his father. In this provision, introduced
under the pressure of temporary distress, the
farmer saw a means of reducing the price of
labour. Having the market of labourers over-
stocked, and therefore at his command, he
refused to give to the unmarried labourer more
than was sufficient to support life; he gave the
same to the married labourer, and paid out of
the poor rates the exact sum necessary for the
subsistence of his children. By this scheme
the ignorant employer thought he had reduced
the price of labour to the lowest possible ; and


there have not been wanting men of enlightened
minds disposed to exalt it as the perfection of
rural economy. The natural consequence of
such a scheme, however, was in the first place
to lower the character of the labourer : to make
him pass his life in dependence, and, instead of
rearing up a steady industrious family from the
savings of his wages and his own exertions,
to see himself reduced to the condition of a
public mendicant. This consequence, however,
would not have given any disquiet to the em.,
ployer ; but there is another as certain and as
necessary ; and that is, that marriages will no
longer be regulated by the demand for labour;
but that a labourer, seeing his children will at
all events be fed out of the public find, will
marry when it suits his inclination, without a
penny in his pocket. Hence an immense
growing population, with a defective and dimi-
nishing market; a rapid supply, without any
demand whatever. And there is no reason why
the evil should not continue to increase until, at
length, the whole profits of cultivating the land
are swallowed up by the expellee of maintaining
a colony of useless mouths. If that should hap-

P 2


pen, the farmer and the labourers must fall toge-
ther; and there will be thrown upon society a
number of people ignorant of all duties, deprived
of all sense of independence, and accustomed to
derive their means of subsistence without labour,
from the public funds. Such a result, it is mani-
fest, would be more calamitous than any revolu-
tion that has yet happened in the world. Flap-
pily the farmers have at length felt the evil them-
selves, and they endeavour by one way or
another to apply a remedy.

Much, if not every thing, may undoubtedly
be done to prevent the mischief of the poor
laws, where it has yet made no great progress,
and the farmers are enlightened and liberal.
Good wages, and a constant system of industry
and improvement will employ the labouring
people as long as things continue in a prosperous
and steady course. Labourers themselves un-
doubtedly prefer the hard-earned bread of inde-
pendence, to the stinted and litigious charity of
an officer of the poor. It is only a bad system
on the part of the rich that can debase the

It is different in a manufacturing district,


where a sudden change of fashion may throw

hundreds of poor upon the parish.
With respect to a legislative remedy there is

but one that can be effectual. It is that of
Mr. Malthus, viz. that after a certain period,
labourers who marry should not be entitled to
support their families from the poor-rates.
The effect of this regulation would soon be to
raise the price of labour, and things would
again return to their old course. The poor
man would be restored to his ancient independ-
ence, and the country would not have the bur-
den of supporting an army of unproductive
labourers, four times as numerous as that
litany force by which we withstood the power

of the French empire.



Romans. And so for the future will be deceived whoever, in
a similar way, and for a similar cause, shall think to oppress a

MACIIIAVEL, Discourses.


It is imprudent to attack a people who are divided amongst
themselves, with a view of conquering them, in consequence of
their disunion.

There was such disunion in the Roman republic between the
people and the nobility, that the inhabitants of Veii, together
with the Etruscans, thought that they could extinguish the
Roman name by taking advantage of these dissensions. Having
raised an army therefore, and made incursions upon the terri-
tory of Rome, the senate sent against them Cneius Manlius
and Marcus Fabius, whose army encamping near the enemy,
the people of Veii did not cease from attacking, both by
arms and by reproaches, the Roman name ; and such was their
rashness and insolence, that the Romans, who were disunited,
became united, and engaging the enemy, defeated and routed
them. We see, therefore, how much men deceive themselves,
as we have before observed, in the line of conduct they adopt,
and how it frequently happens that, in thinking to obtain an
object, they lose it. The people of Veil believed, that by
attacking the Romans disunited, they should defeat them; and
the attack, on the contrary, caused the union of the Romans,
and their own ruin : for the causes of dissension in republics are
generally idleness and peace ; the causes of union are fear and
war. " The people of Veii therefore were deceived in
their opinion, and were, in short, in one day overcome by the

The people of this country loved their constitution. They
had experienced its benefits ; they were attached to it from
habit. Why then put their love to any unnecessary test?
Their love by being tried could not be made greater ; nor
would the fresh burdens and taxes, which war must occasion,
more endear it to their affection. If there was any danger
from French principles, to go to war without necessity, was to
fight for their propagation.

THE war against France, undertaken in 1793,

exemplified at its commencement the wise ob-
servations which I have quoted from Machiavel.
The more apparent the attempts of the allied
powers to regulate her internal government,

the greater her vigour, the more brilliant her
victories, and the more extensive her conquests.
At length, tempted by military trophies, and

successful treaties, she confided herself to a
sovereign who abused his genius and his force,
and endeavoured to make himself despotic lord
of the whole continent of Europe. The Whig
ministry of 1806, found it impossible to make


Fox's Speeches, Feb. I. 1795.


peace with him ; and with few exceptions, all
parties in England agreed in thinking the con-
tinuance of the war just and necessary. At
length, drunk with unexampled power and
glory, and irritated by a perpetual thirst of
action, the Emperor of France carried his great
army of conquerors- to perish amid the frosts
of Russia. The nations roused themselves, and
he was hurled from the throne. The republic
had triumphed, the monarchy was conquered.

By a singular fortune the end of the war,
however different in character from the com-
mencement, was equally destined to prove the
sagacity of Fox. The few enthusiastic Jaco-
bins of 1793 were converted, in 1817 and the
following years, into hundreds of thousands of
malcontents. The pressure of sixty millions of
taxes have indisposed more sound and loyal
men to the constitution of their country, than the

harangues of Citizen Brissot, and the fraternis-
ing decree of November could have done in a
hundred years.




The common people do not work for pleasure generally, but
from necessity. Cheapness of provisions makes them more
idle ; less work is then done, it is then more in demand, pro-
portionally, and of course the price rises. Dearness of
provisions obliges the manufacturer to work more days and more
hours ; thus more work is done than equals the usual demand ;
of course it becomes cheaper, and the manufactures in con-
sequence. FRANKLIN'S P oldie& Fragments.

THE favourite reproach which is made to the
authors of the Revolution of 1688, is, that they
commenced the funding system. As a re-
proach, however, peculiarly applicable to the
government of England of that day, this cen-
sure is totally groundless. The system of bor-
rowing and funding had been long before
adopted both by Venice and Holland.


It is, indeed, a natural step, in the history of
a free state, where commerce produces capital,
and liberty establishes credit. Even the ar-
bitrary monarchies of Europe have found
means to borrow to a large extent. Austria has
several times transacted large loans, and has
been thus enabled to commit the most flagitious
frauds on the creditors of the state. In Eng-
land, Charles II. borrowed a large sum from
the bankers, payable on the receipt of the
taxes. When the taxes came in, he closed the
door of the Exchequer, and refused to pay.
The infamy of this swindling transaction was,
in some measure, repaired in the reign of
William III. when a large part, at least, of the

sum owing was funded as stock in the national

I shall not pursue any farther the defence of

a measure, rendered necessary by the pressure
of the great war in which we were engaged, and
borrowed from Venice, the wisest, and Holland,
the freest state in Europe. It is important,

however, to cast our eye over the history of the
national debt, from this time, and to examine its
immediate and remote effects.


'The capital of the national debt, at the acces-

sion of George I., and when all the war-accounts
may be supposed to have been settled, amounted
to 54,000,0001., the interest to 3,351,0001.
Sir Robert Walpole instituted a sinking fund,
on which great eulogiums were made, and
of which great hopes were entertained. In
1739 the capital of the debt was 46,954,0001.,
the interest 1,964,0001.; so that he diminished
the interest about 1,400,0001., and the capital
about 7,000,0001. The Spanish war, however,
which commenced in 1739, increased the capi-
tal of the debt by 31,300,0001., and the interest
by 1,096,0001. The peace which followed
diminished the capital by 3,700,0007., and
the interest by 664,0001. But in 1763, after
the seven years' war, the national debt amounted

to 146,000,0001.
From that time to the breaking out of the

American war, the national debt was diminished
by 10,739,0001.

At the close of the American war the national
debt amounted to 257,000,0001.

The celebrated sinking fund of Mr. Pitt,
established in 1786, reduced the national


debt, during the peace, by 4,751,0001., and the
interest by 143,0001.

On the 5th of January 1816, after the entire
close of the war, the supplies of 1815 having
been much more than sufficient to cover the
expences of the war of 100 days, the national
debt amounted to 836,255,0001.

In five years from that time, that is, on the
5th of January 1821, the debt amounted to
836,303,0001. being an increase of 110,0001*
During more than a year of this time a
new sinking fund has been in operation, voted
by Parliament to amount to 5,000,0001. a-year.

Such has been the alternate progress of na-
tional debt and sinking fund ; the one advancing
by giant steps, and the other, although much
vaunted, never having, in the course a century,
made half the progress that was made by the
national debt in the single year 1815. He
must be a sanguine man indeed, who expects
the sinking fund to overtake his opponent.

Such being the state of the case, it is more
than ever necessary to examine what this debt

Accounts of the Funded and Unfunded Debt, presented
to the House of Commons, Sess. L821.


is, what are its efficts on the prosperity of the
country, and what is likely to be the ultimate
result. This last inquiry is indeed one of great
uncertainty. Causes the most unlooked-for
may intervene, and entirely change the direction

of political events.
The first operation of the national debt is as

follows : — The minister borrows, we will say

3001., of a merchant who has the money in his

coffers. He engages to pay 151. of interest.

For this purpose he lays a tax of 51. on a

landed proprietor, another 51. on a farmer,

and another 51. on a tradesman, all supposed
for the present to have equal incomes, and to
pay the tax equally. The first operation of
the tax is generally the following. The farmer
and tradesman add the tax to the price of their
commodity. Thus the tradesman pays a part
of the tax of the farmer, and the farmer part of
that of the tradesman. A tax, it is evident, still
remains upon the shoulders of each. The
tradesman and fanner must therefore either
work harder, and produce more of their own
commodity, or they must retrench their ex-
pellees, and buy less of the commodity of their


neighbour. The first takes place in a flourish-
ing condition of a community; and the second
in a poor, weak, and exhausted state. It is by
the continual efforts of men to produce more,

and grow rich, that a country rises to prospe-
rity ; it is by the saving and narrowing of con-

sumption and expence that a nation falls into

There is another manner in which a tax is
paid, that is still worse. It is by diminishing
profits. Thus, if a tax of great amount had

been laid on shoe-buckles, the sellers of that
Article, unable to obtain the payment of the
tax, would have been obliged to content them-
selves with less profit. The trade which is
thus unequally taxed is soon abandoned.

We must not lose sight, however, either of
the landed proprietor, or the stock-holder.
The proprietor, it is evident, must pay, besides
his own, a part of the tax of the farmer and
the tradesman, and he has no means of re-

paying himself. For this reason the economists
supposed that the proprietors of land paid
all the taxes. But they may, if they please,
retrench their consumption, and that too with


much more ease than the tradesman ; as a
livery-servant is more easily parted with than

an artisan.
The stock-holder, in the mean time, if he is

a consumer, pays to the tradesman and the far-
mer part of the tax which is raised for his
benefit. But he has greater facilities of avoiding
expence than any other branch of the com-

There can be little doubt that, for a certain

time, a national debt is beneficial in its effects.
It promotes a rapid circulation of money; it
brings new capitalists into the market with more
enterprise, and more invention than the old
proprietors of land; it obliges the labourer to
work harder, and at the same time produces
new demands for labour. But when the na-

tional taxes have increased to a certain amount,
these effects are nearly reversed. Prices are so
prodigiously increased to the consumer, that all
prudent men retrench both their consumption
and their employment of labour. The greater
proportion of the general income of the country
is transferred from the hands of men who have
the means of laying it out in agriculture or


manufactures, into the hands of great merchants,
whose capital overflows the market, and re-
turns in the shape of mortgages. There is, at
the same time, a great want, and a great
abundance of money. Such are the effects
of a great national debt upon individuals. But
there is another view in which this debt is
an unmixed evil. I mean as it impairs and ex-
hausts the resources of the state. The expence
of former wars render it at last difficult for a
nation to raise taxes for its defence. So much
of the rent of the land-holder is taken from
him, that the minister dares not ask for more,
as it would be equivalent to the confiscation of

the land itself.
Mr. Hume has speculated with great in-

genuity on the consequence of the national debt
arriving at this pitch. He supposes that one
of three methods must be resorted to. The
first is, that the scheme of some projector
should be adopted, which could only tend to in-
crease the confusion and dismay, and the nation
would thus "die of the doctor." The next is a
national bankruptcy; a plan that he seems to look
upon with some approbation. The third, and last,


is, that the nation would persevere in paying
the full interest. He continues thus : " These
two events, supposed above, are calamitous, but
not the most calamitous. Thousands are thereby
sacrificed to the supply of millions. But we are
not without danger that the contrary event may
take place, and that millions may be sacrificed
for ever to the temporary safety of thousands.
Our popular government, perhaps, will render it
dangerous for any man to venture on so despe-
rate an expedient as that of a voluntary bank-
ruptcy. And though the House of Lords be alto-
gether composed of proprietors of land, and the
House of Commons chiefly ; and consequently
can neither of them be supposed to have great
property in the funds : yet the connection of the
members may be so great with the proprietors,
as to render them more tenacious of public
faith than prudence, policy, or even justice,
str; etly speaking, requires

The balance of
power in Europe, our grand-fathers, our fathers,
and we, have all esteemed too unequal to be pre-
served without our attention and assistance.
But our children, weary of the struggle, and
fettered with incumbrances, may sit down




secure, and see their neighbours oppressed and
conquered ; till at last they themselves and their
creditors lie both at the mercy of the conqueror."
The picture of things at home lie draws in
the (blowing manner :—" No expedient re-
mains for preventing Or suppressing insurrec-
tions but mercenary armies : no expedient at
all remains for resisting tyranny : elections are
swayed by bribery and corruption alone : and
the middle power between King and people
being totally removed, a grievous despotism will
prevail. The landholders, despised for their
poverty, and hated for their oppressions, will be
utterly unable to make any opposition to it."*

If we look to foreign nations, we shall see

that Venice, after wars of glory, arrived, in
the beginning of the last century, at that stage
of decay of which Mr. Hume speaks. Her
revenue was not sufficient to pay the interest of

her debt. She suspended payment, but still
was unable to support the expense of her go-
vernment. It requires, however, more space
than we have here, to examine the complicated
causes of her downfall.

Hume's Essays. Essay on Public Credit.

Holland was also borne down in her latter
years by the weight of her debt. It is still
enormous in proportion to her wealth and

France began the revolution with a debt she

could not support. By a summary process in
the middle of the war, she virtually abolished
the greater part of it. No country, however,
has yet been precisely in the situation of Eng-
land. Commerce and credit are not confined to
a spot, but run through every vein in her body.
A national bankruptcy would give a sudden
check to industry that would not easily be
restored. Very mistaken notions prevail with
respect to the good effects which would follow
from applying a spunge to the debt. Of these
mistakes none is more evident nor more mis-

chievous than the notion which many entertain
and inculcate, that the labourer who receives
18.7. a-week, of which ten are consumed by the
taxes on beer, candles, &c., would, if all these
taxes were taken off, receive the same .18s.,

and obtain more than twice as much for them.
The real price of labour, it must be recollected,
is regulated by the supply and demand. The






money-price of course will vary with the money-
price of the provisions, house-rent, clothes,
candles, &c. which are required for the main-
tenance of the labourer. If the demand for
labour remains the same, and by a reduction
of taxes the articles which the labourer uses
are reduced in price from 18s. to 8s. his wages
will fall from 18s. to 8s. But it will be said
that the farmer and manufacturer, having more
capital to lay out on labour, the reduction of
taxes will bring an increased demand. This,
indeed, may ultimately be the case; but it is not
likely that such effect would follow a sudden
stoppage of the payment of the dividends. So

many consumers are spread over this country,
who derive their income, either directly or in-
directly, from the funds, that the first effect of
a national bankruptcy would be a great di-
minution of demand, and a general depreci-
ation of agricultural and manufactured pro-
duce throughout the country.

Since the approach of peace, this country has
been visited, at two periods, by severe distress.
The first began in 1813, when speculators in
foreign corn brought grain, raised, perhaps for

20s. some say for 12s. a quarter, in Poland, to
cope, in the English market, with the English
farmer, whose taxes and outgoings made it ne-
cessary for him to secure 80s. a quarter. The
English farmer, of course, was brought to the
brink of ruin ; and, had not the legislature in-
terfered and forbid all importation till the price
rose to 80s. agriculture must have been nearly
abandoned in this country. The mischief was
not perceived in time by the government, and
years of severe distress, which affected manu-
factures as well as agriculture, ensued.

The second period of distress is, perhaps,
entirely to be attributed to the change which
took place in the value of the currency, towards
the end of the war. About the year 1807, the
taxation of this country was at the highest.

From this period, the pressure of the war was
supported chiefly by tile issue of an excessive
quantity of bank paper, the holders of which
could not demand the payment of the note in
specie. The paper fell in value, step by step, till
the depreciation amounted to about 30 per cent.

During this period of depreciation, the debt of
the country was increased by above 300,000,0001.



The expenditure of 1813 alone caused an ad-
dition to our debt of 77,000,0001., and that
of 1815 another of 65,000,0001. The burden of
the interest of these loans was not much felt
during the war, as (besides appropriating great
part of the sinking fund to pay the interest) the
weight of taxes was, in fact, diminished by the
alteration of the value of the currency, and the
vast expenditure of capital which took place
caused trade and agriculture to flourish. The
new money created by the Bank produced new
speculators and new customers in every branch
of industry, thus raising the price of all pro-
duce, and causing an apparent prosperity
throughout the country. But when, by the
operation of various causes, and at length by
positive statute, the currency was reduced to its
original value, all these agreeable symptoms dis-
appeared. The merchant or speculator, not
receiving money from the Bank of England, is
unable to purchase the produce of the farm.
The farmer, at the same time, is obliged to
sell at low prices, to pay the country banker

" See
Hume's Essay on Money.

the money which he had borrowed to enable
him to improve his land, and meet the in-
creased demand of the war. Corn falls in
value far below the price which the change in
the value of the currency would indicate. The
market is overstocked with labourers, created
by the former demand and the injudicious ad-
ministration of the poor-laws. They become a
burden upon society, and form a body of
unproductive labourers, many times more
numerous than the army and navy of the
highest war-establishment. The nation, • to use

a homely comparison, is like a man reduced
by fever from a state of robust health, whose
clothes are too large for his weakened and

attenuated frame.
After the peace, 18,000,0001. of taxes were

abolished. This was a diminution of 25 per
cent. on the whole taxes, but at the same time
the currency was increased in value 30 per cent.
so that no relief was obtained. Not long after-
wards, 3,000,0001. of new taxes were laid on ;
so that we have now more taxes than ever.

The 300,000,0001. raised in depreciated money,
is to be paid in good currency ; that is to



say, about 70,000,0001. at the least more than
we have borrowed; or, in other words, we
pay more than 3,000,0001. a-year for money that
we have never had.

In order to avoid this evil, Lord Lauderdale
recommended, in 1811, that we should coin
guineas of the value of 21s. of paper-currency.
Had this advice been adopted, we should have
avoided the misery that we have since suffered,
and that, too, as we see, with a very small breach
of the national faith.

Perhaps, indeed, the fundholder would have
had reason to bless the day on which such a
measure was adopted, for it would have retarded

the period which, some time or other, will, in all
probability, arrive, — when the payment of the
full dividend and the safety of the state shall
be found to be incompatible.

Our only consolation for not having adopted,

or not adopting, this course, is, that the country
gives an example of scrupulous faith, and

unbending honesty, rare at all times amongst
nations, but most so in our own times and
among the nations of Europe.



It is true that what is settled by custom, though it be not
good, at least it is fit. And those things which have gone long
together are, as it were, confederate within themselves.
Whereas new things piece not so well ; but though they help by
their utility, yet they trouble by their unconfbrmity. All this
is true if time stood still ; which contrariwise moveth so round,
that a froward retention of custom is as turbulent a thing as an
innovation ; and they that reverence too much old times are but
a scorn to the new. It were good, therefore, that men in their
innovations would follow the example of time itself, which,
indeed, innovateth greatly, but quietly.


WE have hitherto said scarcely any thing of
the constitution of the House of Commons.
From the time of Edward I. it has been com-
posed of knights, who represented the free-
holders or landed property of counties, and of
citizens, and burgesses, who represented the
commercial interests of cities and boroughs.


What these boroughs so distinguished were is a
question lost in remote antiquity. It appears
clear, however, that the writ sent to the sheriff

merely directed him to send to Parliament bur-
gessess for the boroughs within his county, and
that the sheriff issued his precept to such of the
places called boroughs as he thought lit. Whe-
ther they were so called from charter or prescrip-
tion is uncertain. This service being attended
by wages to the members was considered as a
burden ; and several boroughs petitioned and
obtained leave to be relieved from it, some on
account of their bearing other burdens.
During the contest of the houses of York and
Lancaster, however, the House of Commons
having become of more importance, and having
not un

•equently a voice in the disposal of the
Crown, the privilege of electing members to have
a scat in it, grew into a desirable privilege.

• The
charter of Wenlock, granted by Edward IV.,
which is said to be the first in which the privilege

of sending members to Parliament is expressly
mentioned, grants that privilege as a matter of

favour, and as a reward of services performed
by the proprietor of the borough. A little


before this the right of voting at county elections
was restrained to 40s. freeholders, on account,
it is said, of the tumults and affrays which were
likely to occur at those elections : — a proof they
were already objects of interest. The kings of the
house of Tudor, although they raised them-
selves above the people, acted not without, but
through the Parliament. The House of Com-
mons began to debate according to present
forms under the sovereigns of this family.
Under Elizabeth it happened, for the first time,
that a member was found guilty of bribing the
returning officer. In the reign of James,

Agmonclesham, after 400 years' discontinuance,

was restored to the privilege of sending mem-
bers Wendover and Marlow were restored at
the same time. Amongst the arguments in

favour of their right, we find, in an abstract
of the case drawn in 21 Jac. 1. — " Thirdly,
the use in these ancient times being, that the
burgesses, attending in Parliament, were
maintained at the charge of the boroughs ;
when the boroughs grew poor, the boroughs
only for that reason neglected to send their

Browne Willis, Notitia Parlituncntaria, vol. 1. p. 120.


burgesses to the Parliament; therefore, now
seeing they were contented to undergo that
burthen, or to choose such burgesses as should
bear their own charges, there was no reason to

deny that petition. Lastly, it was urged in
behalf of the burgesses, that the liberty of send-
ing burgesses to Parliament is a liberty of that
nature and quality that it cannot be lost by
neglect of any borough ; for every burgess so
sent is a member of the great council of the
kingdom, maintained at the charge of the
borough ; and if such a neglect may be per-
mitted in one borough, so may it be in more,
and consequently in all the boroughs in Eng-

land ; and then it might follow, that for want
of burgesses there would he no Parliament."

In consequence of this decision, there was
returned for Wendover Mr. John Hampden,
4 who beareth the charge." In this and the

succeeding reign, the following boroughs were
restored by Parliament :

- 18 Jac. 1.

Agmondesham, 21 Jac.
Wendover, - Ditto.
Great Marlow, Ditto.


Cockermouth, 16 Car. 1.

Okehampton, Ditto.

Honiton, - Ditto.
Ashburton, - Ditto.
Milbourn Port, Ditto.
Mahon, - - Ditto.

Northallerton, Ditto.
Seaford, - - Ditto.

Twenty-four were restored by the Sovereign
himself. These must have been all willing to
bear the charge, for fifty-one boroughs that had
sent members have never been restored at all.
From the reign of Henry VIII. to the accession
of Charles I. the House had been increased in
number by 156. In Cornwall alone Edward VI.
added 12 members, Mary, 4, and Elizabeth, 10.

Cornwall was chosen as the best place to fix
these members, because the Crown in right of
the duchy had great influence by means both
of mines and lands. These additions show the
desire of the Crown to obtain influence within
the House of Commons. Such unhealthy ex-
crescences, however, did not prevent the
Petition of Right, or guard the throne from the


At a time when projects were teeming on all
subjects, for the amendment of the whole body
of the law, of the church, of the state, and
even of the calendar, it was not to be expected
that the House of Commons should be without
its reformer. It was natural to expect that a.
plan should be recommended for making re-
presentation equal and uniform. Accordingly
a proposal of this nature came from the masters
of all reforms of that day, — the army. The
plan was adopted in its chief principles by
Cromwell in the two Parliaments he called
after becoming Protector : but neither the
temper of the times nor the genius of the man
permitted the experiment to be made in such a •
manner as to give it the slightest value. From
the first of these two parliaments Cromwell ex-
perienced a decided opposition to his authority;
and it was dissolved because it presumed to
discuss the question, whether the government
should be in a single person. In the second,
after various means used to influence the elec-
tors, no person was allowed to enter. without a
certificate from the council of state, and thus
too members were excluded. Richard Crom-

well, either discouraged by these essays, or yield-
ing to the growing partiality for old forms and
methods, assembled a Parliament in the ancient
manlier. Lord Shaftesbury however, who was
the first after the Restoration to violate the inde-
pendence of Parliament, by insisting that all
returns should be judged of in Chancery, was
also the first to renew and keep alive the doc-
trine of parliamentary reform. In a paper pub-
lished after his death, he complains not only of
the undue length of Parliaments, and the cor-
rupt practices of boroughs, but insists on the
great speculative grievance that Cornwall sent
more members than Wales. Some of his
friends, and especially Mr. Samuel Johnson,
chaplain to Lord Russell, endeavoured to move

the question at the Revolution, but both parties
studiously avoided the discussion. From that
time to Lord Chatham, the principle of reform,
though favoured by some illustrious men, chiefly
Tories, seems to have slept in peace: at the same
time, the grievance greatly increased. Boroughs
became more and more venal; and the number
of placemen in a house of 556 members is said
to have been not less than 200. But the people



take little or no interest in the question of re-,

form, except when they are suffering real evils
from misgovernment. It should be mentioned,
however, that in 1745 a Tory motion for annual
Parliaments, intended probably to shake the
Hanover succession, was rejected by a majority
of only 32.

Lord Chatham, finding from experience how
difficult it was to rouse the House of Commons
to a due sense of ministerial abuses, proposed, as
a measure of expediency, that an hundred mem-
bers for counties should be added to the repre-
sentative body. This plan was obviously founded
on utility only : in the phrase of its illustrious

author, it was a plan " to infuse new life into

the constitution."
The American war having placed the misrule

of our statesmen in a still more glaring light,
Mr. Pitt, in 1781, in 1782, and in 1785, made
motions in the House of Commons itself in
favour of different plans of reform ; all, however,
professing to amend only a part of the repre-
sentation, and resting, like those of his father,
on the basis of' utility and experience. There
were, however, other doctrines afloat. Dr.


Jebb, and, after him, Mr. Cartwright, broached
the theory of personal representation ; which,
following out the principles of Mr. Locke, pre-
tended to establish, as a natural and indefeasible
right, that every man ought to have a suffrage.
Neither this theory, however, nor the plan of
Mr. Pitt, which was supported by Horne Tooke,
and all the temperate reformers of that day,
met with any success. Mr. Pitt became at first
cold, and then totally silent on the subject.

The question slept till the French Revolution,
which disturbed every thing, woke it anew:
The fever was contagious : some had it more
violently, some less so. A society, consisting
of many of the ablest men of that day, drew lip
the paper called the Petition of the Friends of
the People. This was no less than a bill of
indictment against the governing assembly, and,
'consequently, against the established constitu-
tion of Great Britain. The history and the
state of the boroughs is minutely detailed; and
an elaborate attempt is made to show that a
few individuals have the command of the House
of Commons, -and of course it follows, of the

persons and purses of every man in Britain.


There is one part of this statement, however,
which is manifestly irrelevant to the subject.
A large number of county members and others
are enumerated as elected by the influence of
peers or certain wealthy commoners. It is
alleged, that not only do 84 persons nominate
directly 157 members, but that 70 others, by
indirect influence, in counties and large towns,.
return 150 more ; and thus a pretended proof is
given, that a few persons elect a majority of the
House of Commons. Now every one who
knows England, knows that the freeholders of
the same political opinions in a county, whether
magistrates or shopkeepers, generally agree to
give their votes to the same candidate. The
qualities which they seek for in a candidate, it
is also known, are, generally, not eloquence, or
even abilities, but common sense, ordinary in-
tegrity, and landed property. Property itself
is supposed, in some manner, to be a guaranty
of character. It therefore happens, that the

person amongst them who has most land, if he
has other common requisites, is the member ;
and if he is a peer, his brother or his son. It
is not a man's own tenants, but his party in


conjunction with his tenants, who make him
knight of the shire. A complaint, therefore,
that the eldest son of the Earl of Derby
is always returned member for Lancashire,
instead of the wisest weaver, or most patriotic
spinner in the county, is not a grievance fit to
be stated to the House of Commons, although
it might make part of an essay on the character
of the English people, or, of a general treatise

on human nature.
Laying this objection aside, however, the

main scope of the petition admits of this an-
swer : — " You complain of the formation of
the House of Commons, such as it has existed
from the Revolution to the present time. You
prove that the frame of our government during
that time has been a corrupt combination for
private purposes. Now our fathers and our
grandfathers have told us, that during that time
they were very free and very happy. Their
testimony is confirmed by the wisest lawyers,
the greatest philosophers, the most enthusiastic
poets of the times. Your theory goes to over-
throw the testimony of Blackstone, Montesquieu,
Voltaire, Thomson, Cowper, and a hundred



others, who have declared England to be in
their time in the enjoyment of complete free-
dom. Now government is a matter of expe-
rience, and not of speculation; we will, there-
fore, not believe a word of your theory."

Such an objection as this appears to me to
be sound. For the complaint is made, not of
a single or particular grievance, but of the
majority of the governing body of the state,
such or nearly such as they had existed for a
hundred years of liberty and glory. To explain
this farther : if a petition were presented, com-
plaining of the bankrupt-laws, it clearly would
not be a good objection to say, " Our ancestors
have been free and happy with the bankrupt-
laws, therefore we will not change them." But
if a petition were presented, stating that the
division of our government into three powers
was a most absurd one; that it was ridiculous
to give one man as much power as 658 repre-
sentatives of the whole people ; that it was out,
of all reason to admit into the House of Lords
a spendthrift or an idiot, because his father had
been a statesman or a favourite;- that the veto
of the King was a barbarous invention un-

worthy of a polished nation ; we should answer,
" The theory may be bad, but the practice has

been excellent."
Mr. Fox, fully sensible to the weight of this

answer, came forward in 1797, and put the

question upon totally different grounds. He
declared the situation of the country to be so
perilous as almost to make him despair of the
safety- of the state. He argued, that the con-
duct of the ministers had been such as to bring
the commonwealth to utter ruin ; and no expe-
dient remained, but to recur to first principles,
and reconstitute the state. Admitting the evil
to have been fully as great as Mr. Fox repre-
sented it, his reasoning was far from proving
the propriety of the remedy. For that evil
arose, not from disregarding the voice of the

people in the American and French wars, but
from yielding to it. " Liberty is in danger of
becoming unpopular to Englishmen," says Mr.
Burke, in the American war. " In short," says
Mr. Fox, during the French war, " liberty is
not popular. The country is divided (very
unequally, I admit,) betwixt the majority, who
are subdued by fears or corrupted by hopes;



and the minority, who are waiting sulkily for
opportunities of violent remedies." " What a
strange remedy, then, to make the legislature
more democratic ! They would have banished
and imprisoned the minority. One remark
more may be made here. The authors of the
plan proposed in 1797, after having sacrificed the
whole present constitution of Parliament to uni-
formity, break that uniformity by proposing that
the country should send more members in pro-
portion to their population than the towns.
Had the plan succeeded, such a blot could not
fail of being hit. The inhabitants of towns
might justly have complained, that they, who
were more enlightened than country labourers,
were defrauded of their due share. A new
plan would have followed, and the government
would have been placed in the worst of all
hands; viz. the population of large cities. —
London alone would have sent 50 members,
Manchester and Glasgow in proportion.

Such objections as those that I have mentioned

Letter to one of his friends. Vide article Fox, in the
new edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Sec, also, M.T.
Fox's Speeches at the beginning of the war, which are full of
avowals, that he had become unpopular by his opposition to it.


might have been sufficient to deter the House
of Commons from adopting a new map of repre-
sentation. But when we are examining the
principles of the English government, it is

necessary to endeavour, , as fi' as we are able,
to lay down some general rules for the form-
ation of the assembly of the Commons of a
limited monarchy. A few may suffice, both
for the author and the reader.

First, All parts of the country, and all classes
of the people ought to have a share in elections,
otherwise the excluded part or class of the nation
will become of no importance in the eyes of
the rest: its favour will never be courted in the
country, and its interests will never be vigilantly
guarded in the legislature. And in proportion to
the general freedom of the community will be the
discontent excited in the deprived class, by the
sentence of nullity and inactivity pronounced
upon them. Every system of uniform suffrage,
except universal, contains this dark blot. And
universal suffrage, in pretending to avoid it,
gives the whole power to the highest and the
lowest, to money and to multitude, and thus
disfranchises the middle class, the most disinter-


ested, the most i ndependent, and the most unpre-
judiced of all. Nor is it necessary, although
every class ought to have a voice in elections, that

every member of that class should have a vote.
A butcher at Hackney, who gives his vote per-
haps once in twelve years at an election for the

county of Middlesex, has scarcely any advan-
tage over another butcher at the same place,
who has no vote at all. And even if he had,
the interest of the state is in these matters the

chief thing to be consulted ; and that is as well
served by the suffrage of some of each class, as
by that of all of each class.

The privilege of giving gains a value,

too, from not being too generally possessed, or
too frequently exercised: were it used every
year, by every body, it would be as little re-
garded as the golden pebbles were by the chil-
dren of El-Dorado.

Secondly, Enlightened men of every class
should be capable of being elected. Tile highest
ill rank, excepting the peers, should be ad-
mitted, because they give to a popular assembly

new importance, and receive from it additional
stability.: Above all, their presence and con-


currence unite the aristocracy and the people in
a common sympathy, planing away the pride of
the one, and the envy of the other. Persons
without birth, who have risen by commerce,
ought, most undoubtedly, to be capable of ad-
mission, both to give an encouragement to the
honest exertions of all sorts of men, and to
make every class feel intimately persuaded that
they are represented in fact as well as in name.
These two sorts of persons require only the
legal permission to enter the legislature : they
are sure to find themselves there. But there is
another class who ought to form a part of any

good representative body, whose election is not
so sure : I mean those who are distinguished by
their learning and their talents, but not by their
fortune, or their commerce with the world ; men
who have devoted their youth to the acquire-
ment of the knowledge of English law, laws of

nations, history of the constitution, political
economy ; but who are excluded by their want
of wealth, their temper, or their habits, from
popular contests. For it is not to be denied
that a body of 10,000 farmers or tradesmen
will choose no man who is not known to them,


either by his station in the country, or by a
course of popular harangues. If, then, you
make none but elections by large bodies, you
either shut out the aristocracy of talent from

your assembly, and constitute them into a body
hostile to your institutions, or else you oblige
them to become demagogues by profession :
things both of them very pernicious, and very
dangerous to the state. It is useful, therefore,
to have sonic elections by persons who, by
their station in society, are acquainted with the
characters of the men of talent of the day.
This may be done either by forming some
elective bodies of a few persons, with a high
qualification, or by giving to property a com-

manding influence in the return of a proportion
of members.

Thirdly, The grand principle of all, derived
from the two foregoing, is, that the representative
body should be the image of the represented :

not that it should represent property only, or
multitude only, or farmers, or merchants, or
manufacturers only; not that it should govern

with the pride of an insulated aristocracy, or
be carried to and fro by the breath of transient


popularity; but that it should unite somewhat of
all these things, and blend these various colours
into one agreeable picture. The House of
Commons should be, as Mr. Pitt said, an assem-
bly united with the people by the closest sym-
pathies. Nor is it meant by this expression to
say, that it should be for ever following the

uppermost passion of the people. The decisions
of the House of Commons should be such as
either to satisfy the people at the moment, or
capable of satisfying them upon plain reasons,
when the arguments and the facts are laid before
them. If the decisions of the representative
body are not fit to do this, not only are they a
bad House of Commons, but they would form
a bad senate, or a bad privy-council. Let us
now see whether the English House of Com-
mons is formed upon principles similar to those

I have mentioned :
1st. The general scheme of the represent-

ation is evidently calculated to give the right
of voting to persons of all classes. Landed
property is represented in counties ; com-
mercial in cities ; and the boroughs contain
every possible mode of suffrage, the most limited



and the most universal. These, too, are all
so blended together ; the towns have so much
influence in county elections, and landed pro-
prietors so much influence in the neighbouring
city or town, that one kind of members does
not feel much jealousy of another kind. It is
always a great misfortune when they are pitted
against each other.

But although no class is excluded from our
constituent body, there are parts of the country
very inadequately represented. The county of
Lancaster, mid the county of York, comprising
Manchester, 13olton, Leeds, Sheffield, Halifax,
and Huddersfield, and containing 2,500,000
of inhabitants, are represented by four persons.
This is evidently a practical grievance, and as
such it has been felt.

2d. Enlightened men of every class find
their way into the English House of Commons.

Those who have property in land are candi-
dates for their respective counties ; those who
have made their fortune by commerce or manu-
factures, may easily establish an interest in
cities with which they have some connection,or

in towns (there. are many such), where, without


bribery, the inhabitants require a man of fortune
to support their public institutions, and give
them his custom in laying out his income.
There remains the aristocracy of talent, who
arrive at the House of Commons by means of
the close boroughs, where they are nominated
by peers or commoners who have the property
of these boroughs in their hands. In this
manner the greater part of our distinguished
statesmen have entered Parliament; and some
of them, perhaps Sir Samuel Romilly and Mr.
Horner, would never have found admittance by
any other way. The use of such members to
the House itself, and to the country, is incalcul-
able. Their knowledge and talents give a
weight to the deliberations, and inspire a respect
for parliamentary discussion, which in these
times it is difficult for any assembly to obtain.
The speeches, too, of able and eloquent men pro-
duce an effect on the country, which is reflected
back again on the Parliament; and thus the
speech of one member for a close borough is
often of more benefit to the cause of truth and
justice than the votes of twenty silent senators.

Some danger as well as much anxiety, it may



be thought, arises from the power of nomin-

ation to a seat in a representative body. Theo-
retically it would be better if the members sent
by single persons were elected by a body of
rich constituents. But in practice it is not
found, that the borough proprietors combine
together to sell their influence : on the contrary,
they are firm to their several party-connections,
and oftentimes they preserve to the House a
great orator, whom the clamour of the day or
a fortuitous circumstance has thrown out.

Such was the case with Mr. Fox.
3d. Do the Commons of England represent

the people? Perfectly well when the people
and the government agree ; but when they se-
parate, the decisions of the House of Commons
lean more to the side of the Government than
the people. This may be proved by examining
the history of the two last years of the Ameri-

can war. The majorities on these occasions were
small, and they consisted chiefly of borough
members. The same thing has happened since
the last peace of Paris, on divisions relating to
the scale of expenditure and patronage which
the ministers have kept up. The country has


been decidedly one way ; and the House of
Commons, by small majorities, has determined
in the opposite direction. The proof of this
is made by analyzing the divisions, and seeing
how the county members have voted. Thus,
on Mr. Dunning's motion in 1780, ministers
in 215 members had only 11 county members,
whilst their opponents in 233 had 69. The
desertion of 20 members was then sufficient to
turn the scale. On the MTalcheren expedition,
the English county members against ministers
were nearly as three to two, but the majority
was in favour of the administration. In 1 8 1 7,
on the question of appointing a finance com-
mittee with less than five placemen upon it, the
county members divided 27 to 15 for the Op-
position; the house at large 178 to 136 for
ministers. On a motion for reducing two
lords of the Admiralty, the county members
were 35 to 16 ; the house 208 to 152 the other
way. The boroughs generally give a large
majority to ministers ; but the smaller boroughs
give five and six to one, and the Cornish bo-
roughs 16 or 17 to one in their favour. There
is one kind of boroughs which has not hi..


therto been mentioned, and which is the chief
cause of this disorder. It is a species of borough
of which the seat is sold by the electors to the
highest bidder. Many of those who represent
this kind of borough come in with what are
called not political but commercial views.
These views are to make as much as possible
at the treasury, and vote on all questions and
at all seasons alike. Many boroughs also have
what is called a patron ; sometimes an attorney,
sometimes a baronet, and sometimes a peer,
who sells them in the market, and takes fifty
per cent. for his trouble.

These boroughs, it is true, also return men
belonging to the commercial interest, who
always ought to find seats in Parliament. But
they send them to the House of Commons,
not as representatives of the commercial body,
but as representatives of that firm in the city
to which they belong. Hence contracts, and
licenses, and jobs, of every kind and descrip-

We have now arrived by regular steps at
the .conclusion, that the House of Commons
does not adequately represent the people, and


that: the small boroughs prevent that vigilant

stewardship of the public revenue which is the
bounden duty and peculiar function of that
assembly. It follows as an immediate conse-
quence, that the small boroughs have be-
trayed the trust which is reposed in them for
the good of the community ; and that they
may without injustice be deprived of the Va-
luable privilege they continue to possess. But
we then come to another question.. It is ',not
certain, because we have a right to do this, that
it would be wise to do it, or, indeed, that the
remedy may not be worse than the disease.
In order to enable us to take a clearer view of
this part of the subject, let us first take a view
of the most approved specifics of the day.

The first of these is universal suffrage. Some
persons maintain, that every man has a right
to a personal vote, which he has received from
God, and which cannot be separated from him.
If this were true, it would put an end to all
question immediately. But in fact it is absurd.
The right which a man possesses with respect
to voting is an artificial right, and must be that
which the laws allow him. It would be more




- 11.,..,"1" •


rational to say, " Every man has right to
a share in the government of his country : let
not the people trust their interests any longer
to other hands, but meet and conduct them
themselves on Salisbury Plain." The right is
equally good ; and Tacitus would have furnished
better precedents for this practice than the
reigns of our Edwards do for personal suffrage.

But further ; — there are two things, and not one
only, to be proved : 1st, that there exists such
a right ; 2d, that it is wise to exercise it.
Every member of the House of Commons has
aright to freedom of speech ; but, happily, many
allow it to be dormant ; and a multitude of
hearers submit to an oligarchy of speakers.

The advocate of universal suffrage next
maintains, that the right is one acknowledged
and exercised in ancient times of our history.
This is a pure vision. The members for cities
and boroughs were chosen by persons who
held the right by charter or prescription. The
knights or members for counties were chosen

by the freeholders : e. persons who were free,
and possessed land. Of universal suffrage, there-
fore, not a vestige is to be found, except in one

or two boroughs, where this right of voting was

Leaving all right aside then, let us consider
the expediency of universal suffrage. On this
I shall not dwell long. It is manifest, that uni •
versa! suffrage is calculated to produce and
nourish violent opinions and servile dependance;
to give in times of quiet a great preponderance
to wealth, and in times of disturbance, additional
power to ambitions demagogues. It is the
grave of all temperate liberty, and the parent of
tyranny and licence. This is not a dream, but
the recorded result of the experiment in
France ; and every Frenchman who loves
liberty speaks with horror of universal suffrage.
In America the same bad effects have not fol-
lowed from this system ; but it has produced a
monopoly extremely prejudicial to freedom,
by throwing the actual elections into the hands
of a very few persons, who have assumed to
themselves the power of governing for the
whole. Hence the real power of choosing the

member resides with a small number of leaders
Of one patty or the other.

We 'come next to consider the effects of a


plan to divide the country into districts, and
extend the right of suffrage to all persons
paying direct taxes. If this plan were accom-
panied by a triennial bill, it would certainly
render the House of Commons an assembly
very obedient to the popular voice; but many
of the advantages of representation would be
lost. The very scope and object of represent-
ation is to obtain a select body, who may not
only have a sympathy with the people, but who
may, by the habits of business which their
number permits, and the judgment which their
election implies, manage the interests of the
country somewhat better than each town and
county could do by petition and public meet-
ing. If you render the House of Commons a
mere echo- of the popular cry, you lose on
many questions, as Catholic Emancipation for
instance, all the benefit of having a body in
some degree capable of directing public opinion.
I am aware that this argument may be easily
pushed too far. I can only repeat, to explain
my- meaning, that the House of Commons
ought to make such decisions as are either
agreeable to the people at the time, or when



they are not so, the weight of argument should
be so great as to convince the country within a
short time afterwards, that the resolution or vote
was adopted, not from any corrupt or sinister
motive, but from an enlarged and sagacious
view of the public interest.

Other arguments might be used to show that
a House of Commons elected by one class
only would not so fully represent the people as
one chosen by many different classes. But on
this topic ,.

I have already touched. These are
speculations, however, of some uncertainty. In
my mind, the greatest objection of all to the
adoption of any broad general plan of reform
is the danger it would bring with it to
every other institution. The real evil of
our present government is the enormous
amount of the national debt. Were we to
make any great and violent change in any one
branch of our legislature, the people would soon
enquire whether that change had lightened the
burden of the debt. It would be no satisfaction
to them to be told that by reductions in the
army, and other establishments, savings to the
amount of three or four millions had been



made. After requiring and obtaining a com-
plete revolution in the form of the House of
Commons, the seat of government, they would
expect much greater alleviation than any eco-
nomy could grant. New and more violent
changes would be demanded. Law and pre-
scription would be less regarded in every trtz,h
change. The national creditor would in vain
urge the justice of his claim to the payment of
the interest due to him. I know there are
many persons disposed to say, " Why, this is
the very thing we want. We only value reform

as a prelude to measures too comprehensive, or,
if you will, too violent, for an old-established
government to undertake." Such is the feeling
of the most able, but I think not the most pru-
dent of the reformers. It is a question, how-
ever, of feeling rather than of reasoning. For
my own part, I cannot understand how a man
can have read the histories of Athens, of
Sparta, of Venice, of France, of Spain, — how
he can have thrown a single glance at the go-

vernments existing in the world at the end of
the eighteenth century, and not cling the closer
to his native home. Corrupt as the administra-


tion of English affairs may be, it is impossible
not to see that the laws afford a greater protec-
tion to civil, personal, and political liberty in
England, than the general average of govern-

ments attain.
" The blessings of the constitution under

which we live," is not, after all, an unmeaning
phrase. They are acknowledged by foreigners,
and by the greater portion of the people of this
country. The true coin of our freedom may be
clipt and worn, but still it is better than any paper
security that may be offered to us We speak,
we write, we think, we act, without fear of a
Bastile or an Inquisition. We wear liberty
about us, as if it were a part of our clothes, and
the dregs of the spirit of old times, with decayed
institutions, are of sounder and better flavour
than a new constitution, however admirable,
which requires new maxims of conduct, and
new feelings of right and justice.

There is still a. third principle, or basis, upon
which measures of reform may be founded.

We have seen that, towards the end of the
American, and after the conclusion of the
French war, the decisions of the House of



Commons were contrary to the well-known
sense of the people. But the majorities were
small, and perhaps an instance will hardly be
found of a majority of more than one hundred,
on a question on which the country itself was
not extremely divided. Now, as it is a maxim
of 'Newton and succeeding philosophers, not to
admit more causes than are sufficient to ex-
plain the phenomena; so also it ought to be
the maxim of a statesman not to propose

more innovations than are sufficient to cure
the evil.

But how begin the Reformation ?— It is ex-
tremely difficult, if not impossible, to cut off
some boroughs, on account of their size, with-
out drawing an arbitrary line. If a borough
with 500 votes is to be disfranchised, what is to
save the borough with 560 ? Any reform of
this kind leads to the general reconstruction of
the whole building, — the plan we wish to

It has been mentioned, however, that there
are a number of boroughs notorious for the ge-
neral prevalence of bribery and corruption
Here we havee-a place for driving in our wedge;


for bribery is an offence against several well-
known laws, which have been made for the pur-
pose of restraining and preventing it. These
laws of prevention having utterly failed, it is
now time to see what may be done by enquiry
and disfranchisement. Nor can there be a more
direct method of improving the representation;
for, on any division, if there be thirty-five mem-
bers for Cornish boroughs in the House, the
chances are, that thirty of them vote for the

minister, whoever he may be.
Other measures of reform may be founded on

the principle of granting a compensation for
the privileges of such close corporations, and
such decayed boroughs as are willing to part
with them. With the terror of a bribery en-
quiry before their eyes, many a corporation and

little borough would be glad to make their
escape over a bridge of gold.

Vt.cancies being thus made, it would then
be open to the legislature to admit to a share
in their deliberations representatives for those
large towns, whose exclusion I have already
indicated as a blot. The merchants of London,
who would lose their Grampounds and Barn-


staples, ought also to be allowed to choose a
small number of members.

By such means, if applied with judgment,
and sincere desire of improvement, the balance
of the House of Commons might be thrown
once more on the side of the people, without
so violent a measure as declaring the privilege
of the small boroughs to be forfeited. Un-
doubtedly those privileges arc a trust; but so is
the Crown; and we ought to have as good, and
as strong, and as cogent reasons for disfran-
chising Old Sarum, as we had for expelling
James IL

I shall only state, in conclusion, that upon
the whole, the authority of our greatest states-
men seems to lean to a partial, and not a ge-
neral reform. Mr. Pitt never proposed to de-
stroy, by mere force of law, any part of the pre-
sent representation. His first proposition was
to add 100 members to counties; he next
moved for a committee; and the last time he
brought forward the subject, in conjunction
with Mr. Wyvill and the great body of re-
formers, he proposed to buy the franchises of
36 boroughs, and of some close corporations,

who should be willing to part with them. In
all these there was no violence ; no pulling
down the house in order to build it up again.
Mr. Fox, during the war of the French revo-
lution, went much further. But his sober
opinions, as well as those of a person illustrious
by his own character, as well as by his friend-
ship for Mr. Fox, may, I think, be collected
from the following passages of the speech of Lord
Grey, on bringing forward a motion for a com-
mittee on the state of the nation, in 1810. In
quoting these passages, I know very well, that

the statesman to whom they are attributed, has
never given any authority for their correctness;
they may be taken, however, as the general
substance of what he said :—" I have hitherto
spoken of financial reform, and the reduction of

needless offices : in my judgment, your Lord-
ships' duty does not stop here. You are, my
Lords, in a situation where it is incumbent
upon us to look into those defects, which, hav-
ing arisen through time, have injured the frame
and corrupted the practice of our constitution,
and to apply to the abuse such remedy as
can be effected by a gradual, temperate, and,


Judicious reform, suited to the nature of the
evil, the character of the government, and the
principles of the constitution. I would not
have ventured to make this avowal to your
Lordships, without much previous thought, and
the most deliberate circumspection. The ques-
tion of reform has long engaged my most se-
rious contemplation. At an early period of my
life, I certainly took tip strong opinions upon
this subject, and pursued them with all that
eager hope and sanguine expectation, so natural
to the ardour of youth. I will not say that
there may not have arisen some difference be-
tween my present sentiments and former im-
pressions ; still I beg leave to assure your
Lordships, that the general opinions I then
formed, I have not, in my maturer age, seen
cause to change, and that whatever distinction
exists between my early and my present views of
reform, on its great grounds that question has
not been abandoned by me. That a degree of
difference exists between mrpresent and former
impressions is what I freely acknowledge; he,
indeed, must have either been prematurely wise,
or must have learned little by experience, who,

after a lapse of twenty years, can look upon a
subject of this nature, in all respects precisely
in the same light. But though I am disposed
soberly and cautiously to estimate the prin-
ciples of the constitution, — though, perhaps, I
do not see in the same high colouring the ex-
tent of the evil sought to be redressed, and am
more doubtful as to the strength and certainty
of the remedy recommended to be applied:;
still, after as serious and dispassionate a con-
sideration as I can give, to what I believe the
most important question that can employ your
Lordships' attention, it is my conscientious
opinion that much good would result from the
adoption of the salutary principle of reform
gradually applied to the correction of those
existing abuses, to which the progress of time
must have unavoidably given birth ; taking
especial care that the measures of reform to be
pursued should be marked out by the constitu-
tion itself, and in no case exceed its whole-
some limits. With respect to any specific pro-
position of reform of the other House of Par-

. liament, I know not how to speak of it, fearful
lest, even in introducing the topic, I should



transgress the bounds of that respect clue to an
integral branch of the legislature, and most
particularly as the propriety of any proposition
of this nature must rest upon the acknowledged
imperfection of that branch, together with the
abuses which have rendered it less strollg as
barrier for the people against the encroachments
of power. But as nothing can be done on this
subject without the concurrence of all the
branches of the legislature, and as that which
affects one branch concerns us all — as the
question itself is of the highest importance to
the nation at large, it is, my Lords, of parti-
cular consequence even to so humble an indi-
vidual as myself, that my opinion on this
subject should not be misrepresented. I there-
fore am ready to declare my determination to
abide by the sentiments I have before ex-
pressed; and that I am now, as I was formerly,
the advocate of a temperate, gradual, judicious
correction of those defects which time has intro-
duced., and of those abuses in the constitution
of the other House of Parliament, which give
most scandal to the public, at the same time
that they furnish designing men with a pretext

for inflaming the minds of the multitude, only
to mislead them from their true interest. To
such a system I am a decided friend; when-
ever it shall be brought forward, from me it
shall receive an anxious and sincere support.
But as I never have, so I never will rest my
ideas of salutary reform on the grounds of the-
oretic perfection. While I shall ever be ready
to correct, by the fixed principles of the con-
stitution, an admitted inconvenience where that
inconvenience is practically felt, I continue to
disapprove of all those general and vague spe-
culations in which some men would wish to

After some remarks on privilege of Par-
liament, he proceeds : — " If, my Lords, any
consideration more than another could confirm
me in the validity of this doctrine, it would be
the concurrent opinion of that great statesman,
by whom it is the pride of my life to have been
instructed and informed in the early part of my
political career ; I mean Mr. Fox, whose views
respecting reform I had frequent opportunities
of ascertaining, in the course of many debates ;
mid than whom there never existed one who


more fully understood the principles, or more
affectionately appreciated the blessings of the
venerable constitution under which he lived.
If, in his political creed, there was one article
which he held more steadfastly than another,
it was, that while a system was practically good
he would always abstain from mending it by
theories. And never, my Lords, can I forget
his powerful observations, when, in his place in
Parliament, he stated his conviction of the ab-
solute impossibility of providing for all the va-
riety of human events, by any previous specu-
lative plans : For, said he, I think, that if a
number of the wisest, ablest, and most virtuous
men that ever adorned and improved human
life, were collected together, and seated round
a table to devise, d priori, a constitution for a
state, it is my persuasion, that notwithstanding
all their ability and virtue, they would not suc-
ceed in adapting a system to the purposes re-
quired, but must necessarily leave it to be fitted
by great alterations in the practice, and many
deviations from the original design. And this
opinion he was wont to illustrate by the familiar
but apt example of building a house, which,

notwithstanding all the study and consideration

previously bestowed upon the plan, was never
yet known to supply every want or to provide
all the accommodations which, in the subse-
quent occupation of it were found to be neces-
sary. Nay, he used to remark, that, however
fineto look at, a regular paper plan might be,
no house was so commodious and so habitable
.as one which was built from time to time, piece-
meal, and without any regular design. To
those principles of practical reform, so wisely
enforced by that great statesman, I am de-
termined to adhere ; and the acquiescence of
your Lordships it is my duty also to solicit;

repeating that the remedy I seek, shall
be limited by the existing defects, shall be
marked by the constitution itself, and not
launch out into any extravagance of theory,
which even appearances may recommend."





Virtue ! without thee
There is no ruling eye, no nerve in states ;
War has no vigour, and no safety peace ;
Ev'n justice warps to party, laws oppress,
Wide through the land their weak protection fails,
First broke the balance, and then scorn'd the sword.


THE proposition, that good laws, without virtue
in the society where they are established,
are of little or no avail, is one so generally
admitted, that it seems useless to waste a word
respecting it. Perhaps there is not a more
comprehensive or a more humane code of laws,
than that which has been provided in Spain for

the government of the Indians of Mexico and
Peru; but unfortunately the legislators are at

Madrid, and the people to be protected working
for their masters in America, without the power
of enforcing their legal rights ; so that the code
is of no force or value whatsoever. The converse

of the proposition I have selected, however,
although perhaps not formally contradicted, is
not so generally impressed upon our minds.
Men are easily led to believe, that where liberty
and wealth have flourished, there must be some
very singular excellence, some unfailing virtue,
inherent in the laws, by which the state has
been governed. It would be an easy -task to
prove, that neither at Athens, nor at Rome, nor
at Florence, nor in Holland, has the form of laws
reached to any great perfection. But this
would probably be admitted; and yet many
would persevere in thinking that in England
our ;'.ncestors had discovered some secret for
making faultless laws. Blackstone has much
contributed to spread this opinion. All that
was established had, in his eye, a peculiar sanc-
tity. The fault, indeed, was on the right side.

T 2


If he refrained from pointing out many obvious

•ovements, he also kept alive that respect
for our ancient liberties, which unprincipled
statesmen find to be the greatest (would it
were an efficient !) obstacle to their arbitrary
innovations. It is impossible, however, to
attempt any general view of the history of our

government, and not to be struck with the
modifications and forced interpretations, which
have been accepted, in order to make law agree
with the security of the state and the safety of
the subject.

The first instance I shall mention is the
treason law. For three centuries, we have
been accustomed to appeal to the 25 Edward III.
as the perfection of wisdom and liberty on the
subject of treason. Yet what is this law, when
we come to examine it? The bold and spirited
compact of a turbulent nobility with a feudal
king, totally unfitted for a commercial and
civilized society. It provides, that the penalties
of treason shall apply to those only who conspire
against the life of the King or actually levy •war
against him. Of the other offences made


treason by the bill it is not necessary to take
notice' here. Such a law as this, it is evident,
was well calculated to protect the barons from
being arrested for disaffection, and to give
them the power of holding their private
councils for rebellion undisturbed. In the
progress of society, however, it was disco-
vered, that a conspiracy to levy war, far from
being an ordinary or light offence, was a
crime of the utmost magnitude, dangerous
alike to the safety of the King and the tran-
quillity of the country. What was to be
done? It was obvious, that a conspiracy to
levy war was. not treason by the act, for •no
men could have been so absurd as- to have
specified the actual levying of war when they
had already included a- conspiracy to commit

that . crime,. under the head of compassing
the king's death. Had they wished to in-
clude this offence, they would undoubtedly
have said, levying war against the King, or
conspiring to levy war. Indeed, so certain was
the meaning of the law of Edward, that a new
law. making a conspiracy to levy war high

treason had been enacted, and afterwards
'I` 3


repealed with other new treasons at the begin-

ning of the reign of Mary. In this dilemma,

the lawyers cut the Gordian knot. They de-,
cided, that " compassing or imagining the death
of the King," meant conspiring to depose him,
or to imprison him, or to use force for the
purpose of making him change his counsellors,
or his measures; for any of these acts might
lead to his death. They interpreted the offence
of levying war against the King to mean a riot
for any general purpose, as to pull down
inclosures, or meeting-houses. These violent
constructions of law, first imagined under the
reign of the Tudors, put in force to shed the
blood ofgood men under the Stuarts, crept in and
flourished till they received the sanction of the
upright and venerable Judge Foster in the reign
of George the First. In those times of mild
government, however, the engine was little

wanted, and it was reserved for Mr. Pitt, to
direct it against the lives of his old supporters
the reformers, during the French revolutionary
war. But juries refused to carry the construc-
tion as far as the court desired. It was proved,
indeed, to their satisfaction, that Hardy and


others had joined in associations, which had no
other object than to overturn the institutions,
one and all, by which the throne was sur-
rounded. The. chief justice declared there
could be no doubt respecting the construction
of the law. But it was impossible to convict
Hardy, without making all political association
in opposition to the ministry liable to capital
indictment, and the prisoners were acquitted.
Less than two years ago, some raving dema7
gogues went beyond any thing that appears of
Hardy. and the constitutional society. They

resolved not to obey the laws, and they recom-
mended in their speeches. physical force, as the
only means of obtaining redress. Many of
them were committed forj.igh treason. But
the Government recollecting the lesson their
predecessors had received, declined to prosecute
for that offence; and have thus tacitly aban-
doned a pretension dangerous to the safety
of every man in the country. The law of
high treason, insufficient at first for the se-
curity of the state, and afterwards a snare for
the subject, has been worked out 4 last into

T 4


a barrier, alike providing for the stability
of the offended throne, and the safety of the
innocent accused,

Let us now pass to the law of libel, — the se-
curity by which the liberty of the press is to
be protected. Blackstone tells us that libels,
in the sense in which we are speaking, are
" malicious defamations of any person, and
especially a magistrate, made public by either
printing, writing, signs, or pictures, in order to
provoke him to wrath, or expose him to public
hatred, contempt, and ridicule." He tells us
that " the communication of a libel to any one
person, is a publication in the eye of the law :"
and that " it is immaterial, with respect to the
essence of a libel, whether the matter be true
or false !" Thus, then, a man may be punished
for any writing on the conduct of a minister
which may expose him to public hatred, con-
tempt, and ridicule ; although the allegations
contained in it be true, and it has only been
shown to one person. To make this power

more formidable, the judges were wont formerly
to maintain that they alone had the power of


deciding whether the writing were libel or
no; and that the jury were only called upon to
decide upon the fact of the publication. Here
indeed is a law of tyrants ! How has the
liberty of the press ever survived it?

The miracle is soon explained. — The pro-
secutor on the part of the crown, contented
himself with putting in the paper, and proving
the publication. The counsel for the accused
always dwelt upon the hardship of convicting
any man for the publication of a writing with-
out examining whether that writing was inno-
cent or pernicious. The jury felt the injustice
of the proceeding, and generally acquitted the
accused. The libel bill of Mr. Fox, then, while
it afforded a just protection to the public press,
was rendered necessary by the breach which
had taken place between the law and the men
bound to administer it.

I cannot leave this subject of libel without
mentioning the hardship to which accused per-
sons are still subjected by being tried by special
juries. These juries are, in the country, the
nominees of the crown. Surely in a case where

the powers of the government are brought to


bear against an individual in so delicate a mat-
ter as seditious libel, the subject ought to have
a protection somewhat similar to that which he
is allowed in cases of high treason, of challeng-
ing peremptorily thirty .five of the jury.




Per me ho adottata nell' intero la legge d'Inghil terra, ed a
quella mi attengo ; ne fo mai nessuno scritto the non potesse
liberissimamentc c senza biasimo nessuno autore essere
stampato nella beata e veramente sola libera Inghilterra.
Opinioni, quanti se ne vuole : inclividui offesi, nessuni : cos-
tumi, rispettati sempre. Queste sotto state, c saranno sempre lc
sole mic leggi ; ne altre se ne pu6 ragionevolmente amettere,
ni rispettare. AFFIERI, Vita, t. 2. p. 133.

THERE can be no doubt that public opinion

acquired prodigious force during the -

reign. 'Not that the power of opinion is, as
some suppose, a complete novelty in this
country, or an exclusive attribute of a free con-
stitution. It was public opinion which induced
the soldiers on Hounslow Heath to shout when
the Bishops were acquitted ; it was-• public
opinion which obliged Sir Robert Walpole to

relinquish the excise-scheme. Even in dis-


potic countries opinion has its weight: it dis-
missed Squillace from the government of Spain.
In Turkey also we are told, that when the
people are discontented, they set fire to a house..
It is or was the custom for the Sultan always-
to assist at a fire, and thus an opportunity
is found of telling him those unpleasant truths,
which would never otherwise reach his ear.
This to be sure is a strange method of giving
constitutional advice.

The chief advantage, then, of a free govern-
ment, is not the existence of public opinion,
but that it is exerted in favour of the whole-
some rights and established liberties of the
people. Looking at the subject then in this
point of view, I own, I doubt whether public
opinion has increased so much in quality, value,
and weight, as it has in bulk and velocity.

In the first place, it is very evident that esteem
for constitutional learning, and respect for
ancient forms and usages is very much dimi-
nished. This, no doubt, is owing to the increase

of mercantile men, who have, not like our landed
gentlemen and magistrates, the habit of look,-
ing into law-books, and referring to acts of --


parliament. It is also partly owing to the
pressure of great evils, which have sometimes
made a necessity, real or supposed, of over-
looking rules and maxims, to remedy an
urgent danger. 'Whatever be the causes,

z-) •

however, the consequence is very grievous.
The forms of Parliament and of the constitu-
tion, as has been before observed, oppose
in themselves a great barrier to the strides of
arbitrary power. The violation of those forms
ought to serve as a signal that an enemy is in
sight, and the people should be prepared at
once to take part against a measure appearing
under such inauspicious colours. This feeling,
however, being now weakened, it is in the
power of a minister to dispense with precedent
and usage, whenever they stand in the way of
convenience and expediency, and thus all the
guards and outworks of freedom, on which her
security so much depends, are yielded without
a blow.

Another loss for the cause of liberty is to
be found in the extinction of the race of
the Pretender. As long as the Stuarts main-
tained their claim to the crown, the King was



obliged to make up in good government what
he wanted in legitimate right. A great part of
the church, and their peculiar adherents, allowed
the doctrines of the Whigs to

prevail, that

they might exclude those of the Pope ; they
permitted liberty for the sake of religion. But
at present, the King's advisers have no fear of
a successful rival, and the church having been
saved by the Whigs, think it consistent with
propriety and dignity to calumniate them, and
the cause of liberty itself. They have ac-
cordingly revived, in a less odious form, tile
doctrine of passive submission, and they have
carried along with them that immense rabble,
who think " the people are born with a saddle on
their backs, and the King with a whip and
spurs to ride them."

There is another cause of the corruption
of public opinion to be found in the enormous
growth of our manufacturing towns. The

people of these towns, having grown to sud-
den wealth; having lost, in the rubs of a
steam-engine life, all the hereditary attach-
ment to law and liberty, which every Eng-
lishman naturally inhales at his father's fire-


side, have no guide or compass in their po-
litical opinions. It is a misfortune, too, that

the greater part of these towns having no repre-
sentatives, the people they contain never attend
to the affairs of their country, with a view to
any practical decision. Hence, their notions of
government vary with every breath of pro-
sperity or adverse fortune : at one time they
are indifferent when the whole constitu-
tion is menaced ; at another, they listen to
revolutionary plans and incomprehensible re-

There is another circumstance with respect

to public opinion, which is of more importance
than any. It is, that opinion has become much
more sensitive, and men are more disposed to
go to extremes than they ever were before.
Since the beginning of the present reign, a
popular party has appeared, which professes
itself dissatisfied with the measure of liberty
secured to us at the Revolution. Others have
followed them, who, generally perhaps without
any serious intention, have found pleasure in
trying how far violence of language would be
permitted. There has naturally arisen, in the



opposite quarter of the heavens, another party,
who cling to ease and quiet, and would fain see
political discussion silenced altogether. In
times of great ferment, the dissensions of these.
parties become highly dangerous to all regular
and sober freedom. Thus, at the beginning of
the French revolution, Mr. Burke having got a
hold of the public mind, raised a spirit of the
most bitter persecution against all who did not
approve of the policy of the war. The extreme
nervousness of the nation made it unsafe to
indulge any honest difference in politics. The
minister, by instituting trials for treason, gave
into and promoted the popular fury; and had
it not been for Mr. Erskine's eloquence, it is

impossible to say whether the lives of Mr. Fox
and all the chief of his party might not have been
sacrificed to the rage and fear of the alarmists.
The demagogues of the day, on the other hand,
lose no opportunity of exciting the people, in
times of distress, to acts of outrage and rebel-
lion. The quiet and well-disposed, and indeed
all persons of property, naturally take the alarm.

The panic is increased by miserable wretches,
who imitate the language of demagogues, Iii

order to inspire terror into the community, and
strengthen the ministers of the day. The evil
of violent language and blasphemous publica-
tions, however, admits of an easy remedy. We
have laws sufficiently strong against sedition
and tumult ; it is only necessary to put them in
force. Instead of this, two other methods have
been taken; both, in my mind, injudicious, and
one extremely dangerous. The first is the
suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Now
this is a very proper precaution, when a conspi-
racy is carried on by a few principal leaders
whose imprisonment puts an end to the plot.
But it is no remedy at all, when the evil
consists in the discontent of some thousands of
unemployed manufacturers. Uno avulso non

deficit alter : the subalterns, in conducting
these popular humours, are fully as able and
audacious as the chiefs. The other remedy
consists in new laws, restraining the right of
speaking and writing. Acts of this kind in-
terpose obstacles to public meetings and public
newspapers, and serve to discountenance, for
a time, by the authority of Parliament, the
abuses of liberty which have prevailed. But


it is manifest, that it is impossible to prevent
sedition and blasphemy, unless all freedom
of speech and the liberty of the press be ex-
tinguished. It is impossible to provide be-
fore-hand, by act of Parliament, that all
speeches and writings shall keep within the
bounds of loyalty and moderation. Therefore,
the restraining laws are, except for the mo-
ment, inefficient. They are also pernicious ;
for they admit a principle, which, if pushed to
its full extent, authorises a censorship of .the
press. They are, therefore, in direct opposi-
tion to the maxims of the Revolution, which
allowed any man to do freely, that which in
itself was harmless. Even the Riot Act, which
is justly reckoned a law of great severity, im-
poses no penalty or restraint, except upon per-
sons who are in the actual commission of a riot.
Those, indeed, who have lived in latter times,
have reason to praise the moderation of the
government, which preserved itself from a
Pretender and his Tarty, with so little expense
to public liberty.

It would seem, that we have now gone as
far as it is possible to go safely upon the system


of restraint. If blasphemy and sedition again
alarm the timid, they must be suppressed by
the ordinary laws : otherwise we must either
admit a censorship, or surrender the present
mode of trial by jury.

It is to be hoped, that, rather than adopt
either of these tyrannical expedients, England
would impeach the minister, who gave such
atrocious advice to his sovereign.

u 2




If it be desired to know the immediate cause of all this free
writing and free speaking, there cannot be assigned a truer
than your own mild, free, and humane government; it is the
liberty, Lords and Commons, which your own valorous and
happy councils have purchased us ; liberty, which is the nurse
of all great wits. We can grow ignorant again, brutish, formal,
and slavish, as ye found us; but you then must first become
that which ye cannot be, oppressive, arbitrary, and tyrannous as
they were from whom ye have freed us. That our hearts are
now more capacious, our thoughts now more excited to the
search and expectation of greatest and exactest things is the issue
of your own virtue propagated in us. Give me the liberty to
know, to utter, and argue freely, according to conscience, above
all liberties,

SOME of the foregoing observations may seem
to lead to a conclusion that the intense light
thrown upon all public affairs, tends rather to
increase the irritability, and diminish the power,

than to augment the strength and improve the
vision, of our organs of sight. Allowing, how-
ever the abatement which must be made for the
evils produced by an overstraining of attention
to political matters, we shall yet find enough of

good left to make us cherish the liberty of the
press, as the guardian and guide of all other

Before I proceed to give a short view of some

of the advantages of the press, let us again re-
call to our minds, that it is nonsense to talk of
its liberty without its licentiousness. Every
attempt to curb its licentiousness, otherwise than
by the application of law, after an offence com-
mitted, must likewise restrain its liberty. To
do one without the other, were as difficult as to
provide that the sun should bring our flowers
and fruits to perfection, but never scorch our

Many have a mistaken notion of what the

press is. They suppose it to be a regular in-
dependent power, like the Crown, or the
House of Commons. The press does nothing
more than afford a means of expressing, in good
and able language, the opinions of large classes

u 3


of society. For if these opinions, however well
sustained, are paradoxes confined to the. indi-
yid ual who utters .

them, they .fall as harmless' in
the middle of sixteen millions of people, as they.
would do in a private partynf three or four. Nor
is it the sentiment of A. the editor of one news-
paper, or of B. the editor of another,.which con-
trouls the course of government. These men are
little if at all known : with one or two exceptions

their names are never mentioned: It is their skill
in embodying in a 'daily journal the feelings, and
the reasonings which come home to the business
and the bosoms of large portions of their country-
men, that obtains for their writings fame , and
general acceptance. But it would be vain for
these persons to endeavour to make the people
discontented with laws which they loved, and a
minister whom they revered. They would not

be dreaded, nor even read. Equally vain would
it be for a vicious, oppressive; and , odious
government to suppress the liberty of printing.
It was not the press which overturned Charles I.,
nor could the Inquisition preserve to Ferdi-
nand VII. his despotic power. The dark
cabal, the secret conspirator, the sudden tumult,

the solitary assassin, may all be found where
the liberty of printing has never existed. And
were a government to suppress it where it does
exist, without taking away the matter of sedition,
more crime and less security would probably be
the result of their foolish panic, and powerless

In looking at the celebrated governments of

antiquity, and those of modern times which have
not admitted 'a free press, it must strike every
one that they have declined, not from any vice
inherent in the institutions by which they were
governed, but by the gradual decay of national
virtue, and the corruption of the people them-
selves, as well as of their leaders. In Sparta,
and in Rome, this corruption may, in the be-
ginning, be attributed to an influx of wealth
acting upon a nation whose liberties and whose
morals were founded upon poverty and the con-
tempt of riches. But the precipitate fall of a
state, like that of Rome, into an abyss of pro-


fligacy and venality, can only happen when
the whole people, stained by political and
moral vices, are delivered from a sense of
shame, by the want of any effectual restraint



upon their actions. In both these circum-
stances, England has the advantage of Rome.
Her institutions are not founded on the pos-
tulate that her manners must be rude, and
her legislators poor. Commerce, and indus-
try of every kind have been favourites of the
law from the commencement. Nor is it easy to
emancipate our rulers or our elective body from
the sense of shame. Their actions are not sub-
mitted to the opinions of a single city, but
scanned publicly by sixteen millions of people,
nay, by Europe, by America, by the whole
()lobe The nation itself is too numerous to be
generally seduced by the officers of the crown.
In a village of one hundred householders, two,
or perhaps four, may be gained by government-
influence, but the other ninety-six are free to
choose their politics and their newspaper. Nor
could any anonymous writer venture to appeal
to any but the good principles of our nature.
No one has yet seen the newspaper or pamphlet
which openly defends the venality of judges, or
the infliction of torture, any more than the

tragedy which holds up cowardice to our ad-
miration, or endeavours to make envy amiable


in our eyes. Even the worst men love virtue in

their studies.*
In ordinary times, it is evident the exercise of

this censorship must be beneficial to the coun-
try. No statesman can hope that his corrupt
practices, his jobs, his obliquities, his tergivers-
ations, can escape from a vigilance that never
slumbers, and an industry that never wearies.
Nor is it an important obstacle to truth, that
the daily newspapers are the advocates of party,
rather than searchers after truth. The nation,
after hearing both sides, may decide between
them. Neither are the advantages to be derived
from publicity merely speculative. We see in-
stances of them every day. One of the most
remarkable effects of public opinion that can be
quoted is, perhaps, the personal integrity of our

* The only resemblance to this influence of public opinion
is to be found in the censorship at Rome. Montesquieu says of
it, hint quo je parle dune magistrature qui contribua
beaucoup a maintenir le gouvernement de Rome : cc fut cello
des censeurs. Its corrigeoicnt les abus quo la loi n'avoit pritvus,
ou que le magistrat ordinaire ne pouvoit pas punir. II y a
de mauvais exemples que sont pires quo les crimes ; et plus
d'•tats ont p6ri parcequ'on a vio16 les inceurs que parcequ'on a
viol& les lois." But the censors were men ; and men at length
disregarded them.


statesmen with respect to money. In the time

of Charles and a long time afterwards, the
greatest men in the country were not inacces-
sible to what, in these days, we should call
bribery. In the time of Lord North, many
members of Parliament were influenced by
money in its most gross and palpable shape.
In these days, (however the same influence may
prevail in another form,) it is impossible not to
allow that there is much more personal delicacy,
and, I will add, a higher sense of honour.
Thus, instead of growing more corrupt, as
states have always done before, the nation
generally contains more political honesty than

ever. Even in the House of Commons, where
there are still seventy members holding places,

there are one hundred and thirty fewer place-
men than in the reign of George I.

The greatest benefit, however, that we derive
from publicity, is, that it corrects and neu-
tralizes the vices of our institutions, even when

they are not immediately amended by it.

Thus, to come at once to the greatest instance
of this; the House of Commons is at presit
so composed, that were it shut up, and admitted

ov THE PRESS. '299

no influence, from.. without, the people would
soon find that its spirit was so gone, its organs
so decayed, its acts so unpalatable, that they
would submit to such a government no longer.
But we continually find, that the talent of a
single member outweighs the sense of the
whole House ; and a minister, after protecting a
favourite abuse, year after year, by confident
speeches and overwhelming majorities, silently
retreats, and abandons the ground on which he
appeared to have taken an impregnable position.

The House of Commons themselves, too, cannot

fail to, be influenced on great questions by the
general opinion of the people out of doors. IF
they could meet and discuss measures of state
day after day, make speeches, that are to be read
in Caithness and in Cork, expose their whole
conduct and arguments to the view of the coun-

try, and yet pay no attention to the feelings of
that country, they would be more or less

than human.
Among otherquestions, upon which, it appears

to me, the House of Commons is 'disposed to
giveway, is one on which they must be expected
to feel like other individuals and bodies, as it

/„..!--,,),iv ei,;\

/ c-,, -vs
ad f r-





intimately concerns their own power. I mean
the question of privilege. On the one hand it
cannot well be denied, that the House of Com-

mons, like other courts, must have the power of
protecting their own proceedings from inter-
ruption; and that it would not be consistent,
either with the dignity of the assembly, or
the safety of the state, to allow other courts
to define in what that interruption consists, or
to reverse the orders which the House have
thought it n

ecessary to make, to secure the
freedom of their own deliberations. This con-
cession made, it cannot be denied, on the other
hand, that what is called privilege of Parliament,
has been at various times grossly abused. In
1621, one Floyd, a Roman Catholic member,
having used some expressions offensive to the
daughter of James I.

and her husband, was
sentenced by the House of Commons to be
pilloried twice, to ride on horseback through

the streets with the tail of the horse in his
hand, and to be fined 10001. In 1759, a

poacher, who had trespassed on the fishery of
Admiral Griffiths, a member, was voted gu.lty
of a breach of privilege, and

reprimanded on


his knees. These are clearly acts of tyranny

and caprice. Indeed, every commitment by the
House of Commons for a libel on the House,
not directly tending to interrupt their proceed-
ings, may be considered an abuse of privilege.
The proper remedy for such an offence is to
pray the Crown to order the Attorney General
to prosecute the offender in a court of law. For
the people of England are naturally jealous,
when they perceive accusers becoming judges;
and awarding punishment without a trial, for a
crime committed against themselves. Such,
indeed, is the public opinion on this subject,
that I am persuaded the fury of privilege is

I have here spoken only of the House of
Commons ; but all other courts, powers, and
pre-eminences, are subject to the same controul,
and are saved from the decay, to which they
are naturally subject, by the same antiseptic
virtue. It is true, as we have observed in a
former chapter, that in times of great ferment,
the preserving force is not in operation ; but
if the constitution is not wholly overthrown

in the struggle, the nation in a short time re-


views its acts, and often contracts a species of
religious horror, of the violence which has
been done to its most sacred rights. Hence a
greater love than ever for the laws which ap-

peared most in danger of being swept away,
and a new jealousy of the ancient privileges of
the land.

Reflections of the kind that have here been
made, seem to hold out a glorious and singular
prospect of the permanency of our constitution
for ages yet to come. Such, I am satisfied,
would be the natural life of our institutions.
But the aid of an empiric has been admitted,.
and it is impossible to say whether he has not
brought on the premature dissolution of this
mighty parent of our liberties, our happiness,
and our glory. Mr. Pitt, entrusted at an
early age with the care of the government,
seems to have indulged, in his subsequent con-
duct of the state, those vices of youth, from which
his own private life had been exempt. He
made the country live too fast. Prodigality and

profusion every where prevailed ; the nation
borrowed year after year, with increased and
thoughtless extravagance ; new and artificial


facilities were invented to enable us to run
in debt; the peerage was depreciated by crea-
tions, which, at the same time, enfeebled the
gentry of the kingdom ; a factitious vigour was
produced by the application, from time to time,
of the most hurtful stimulants, and a tempo-
rary repose was obtained at the expense of per-
manent strength, and the stamina of life itself.
Hence a frame, which was formed to endure
longer than the ordinary period, may be cut
off by a sudden failure of its powers. Nations
which have been our inferiors, or our rivals, are
watching us with envious pleasure, in the hope
of seeing us starved into inanition, or perish
in convulsions. Whatever may be our fate,
however, I feel confident, that in some shape or
another, this country will still be formidable to
her enemies. I would fain hope more: I trust that

the people of this great community, supported
by their gentry, will afford a spectacle worthy
of the admiration of the world. I hope that
the gentry will act honestly by their country,
and that the country will not part with the
blessings which it obtained by all the miseries
which a nation can encounter, — by suffering per-


• n1•917.7112•MIL=1.174......",


secutions, by affronting tyranny, by encounter-
ing civil war, by submiting to martyrdom, by
contending in open war against powers that
were the terror of the rest of Europe. I would
fain believe that all ranks and classes of this
country, have still impressed upon their minds,
the sentiment of her immortal Milton — " Let
not England forget her precedence of teaching
nations how to live."


Sin Thomas Smith is perhaps the first author who takes
notice of the difference of the title of gentleman in Eng-
land and on the Continent. I subjoin an extract from his
work. —" Ordinarily the King loth only make knights
and create barons, or higher degrees ; for as for gentlemen,
they be made good cheap in England. For whosoever
studieth the laws of the realm, who studieth in the uni-
versities, who professed) liberal sciences, and, to be short,
who can live idly and without manual labour, and will
bear the port, charge, and countenance of a gentleman,
he shall be called Mvster, for that is the title which men
give to esquires and other gentlemen, and shall be taken for
a-gentleman : for true it is with us as is said, Tanti eris
<this wadi tibi feeeris ; and, if need be, a king of heralds
shall also. give him, for money, arms newly made and in-
vented, the title whereof shall pretend to have been found
by the said herald in perusing and viewing-of old registers,
where his ancestors, in times past, had been recorded
to hear the same. * * A man may make doubt

306 NOTES.

and question whether this manner of making gentle-
men is to be allowed or no; and for my part I am
of that opinion, that it is not amiss. For first, the prince
loseth nothing by it, as he should do, if it were as in
France; for the yeoman or husbandman is no more sub-
ject to taile or tax in England than the gentleman : no,
in every payment to the King, the gentleman is more
charged, which he beareth the gladlier, and dareth not
gainsay for to save and keep his honour and reputation."—
De Republica Anglorum, lib. i. chap. 20. & 21.


" Fox their images, some of them were brought to London,
and were there at St. Paul's cross in the sight of all the
people, broken ; that they might be fully convinced of the
juggling impostures of the monks. And in particular, the
crucifix of Boxley, in Kent, commonly called the Rood of
Grace, to which many pilgrimages had been made ; because
it was observed sometimes to bow, and to lift itself up,
to shake, and to stir head, hands, and feet, to roll the
eyes, move the lips, and bend the brows ; all which were
looked on by the abused multitude, as the effects of a
divine power. These were now publicly discovered to
have been cheats. For the springs were showed by which
all these motions were made. Upon which John Hilsey,
then bishop of Rochester, made a sermon, and broke the
rood in pieces. There was also another famous imposture
discovered at Hailes, in Gloucestershire ; where the blood
of Christ was showed in a vial of chrystal, which the
people sometimes saw, - but sometimes they could -lot see
it : so they were made believe, that they were not capa-
ble of so signal a favour as long as they were in mortal

NOTES. 307

sin ; and so they continued to make presents, till they
bribed heaven to give them the sight of so blessed a relic.
This was now discovered to have been the blood of a
duck, which they renewed every week : and the one side
of the vial was so very thick, that there was no seeing
through it, but the other was clear and transparent : and
it was so placed near the altar, that one in a secret place
behind could turn either either side of it outward. So when
they had drained the pilgrims that came thither, of all
they had brought with them, then they afforded them the
favour of turning the clear side outward ; who upon
that went home very well satisfied with their journey,
and the expence they had been at. There was brought
out of Wales a huge image of wood, called Darrel Gathcren,
of which one Ellis Price, visitor of the diocese of St.
Asaph, gave this account : On the Gth of April, 1557,

That the people of the country had a great superstition
for it, and many pilgrimages were made to it ; so that the
day before he wrote, there were reckoned to be above five or
six hundred pilgrims there : some brought oxen and cattle,
and some brought money ; and it was generally believed,
that if any offered to that image, he had power to deliver
his soul from hell.' So it was ordered to he brought to
London, where it served for fuel to burn Friar Forrest.
There was an huge image of our Lady at Worcester, that
was had in great reverence; which, when it was stripped
of some veils that covered it, was found to be the statue
of . a bishop." — Burnet's History of the Reformation,
vol. i. p. 242.

" But the richest shrine in England, was that of Thomas
Becket, called St. Thomas of Canterbury the Martyr. For
300 years, he was accounted one of the greatest saints in
heaven, as may appear from the accounts in the Ledger-
books, of the offerings made to the three greatest altars

x 2

308 NOTES. NOTES. 309

in Christ's Church, Canterbury. The one was to Christ,
the other to the Virgin, and the third to St. Thomas. In
one year there was offered at Christ's altar 3/. 2s. Gd. ; to
the Virgin's altar, 631.5s. 6d.; but to St. Thomas's altars,
8321. 12s. 3d But the next year the odds grew greater ;
for there was not a penny offered at Christ's altar, and
at the Virgin's only 41. is. 8d. ; but at St. Thomas's,
954/. Gs. 3d. By such offerings it came, that his shrine
was of inestimable value. There was one stone offered
there by Louis VII. of France, who came over to visit it,
in a pilgrimage, that was believed the richest in Europe."
— Burner's Ihistory of the Reformation, vol. i. p. 244.


THE following speech of Secretary Cecil on monopolies,
is altogether characteristic of the reign of Elizabeth : —

Mr. Secretary Cecil stood up, and said, " There needs
no supply of the memory of the Speaker : but, because it
pleased him to desire some that be about him to aid his
delivery, and because the rest of my fellows be silent, I
will take upon me to deliver something which I both then
heard, and since know. I was present with the rest of
my fellow-counsellors, and the message was the same that
bath been told you; and the cause hath not succeeded
from any particular course thought upon, but from pri-
vate informations of some particular persons. I have
been very inquisitive of,them, and of the cause why more
importunity was now used than afore; which, I am afraid,
comes by being acquainted with some course of proceed-
ing in this house. There are no patents now of force,
which shall not presently be revoked; for whai patent
soever is granted, there shall be left to the overthrow of

that patent a liberty agreeable to the law. There is no
patent if it be melum in so,' but the queen was ill ap-
prized in her grant. But all to the generality be unca-
ceptable, I take it, there is no.patent whereof the execution
bath not been injurious. Would that they had never
been granted ! I hope there shall never be more. (All
the House said Amen.) In particular, most of these
patents have been supported by letters of assistance from
Her Majesty's privy-council; but whosoever looks upon
them shall find, that they carry no other style, than with
relation to the patent. I dare assure you, from hence-
forth there shall be no more granted. They shall all be
revoked. But to whom do they repair with these letters?
To some out-house, to some desolate widow, to some
simple cottage, or poor ignorant people, who rather than
they would be troubled, and undo themselves by coming
up hither, will give any thing in reason for these caterpil-
lars' satisfaction. The notice of this is now public, and
you will, perhaps, judge this to be a tale to serve the
time. But I would have all men to know thus much
that it is no jesting with a court of Parliament, neither
dares any man (for my own part, I dare not) so mock and
abuse all the states of this kingdom, in a matter of this
consequence and importance. I say, therefore, there
shall be a proclamation general throughout the realm, to
notify Her Majesty's resolution in this behalf. And be-
cause you may eat your meat more savoury than you
have done, every man shall have salt as good and cheap
as he can buy it or make it, freely, without danger of that
patent, which shall be presently revoked. The same
benefit shall they have which have cold stomachs, both
for aqua vita and aqua composila, and the like. And they
that have weak stomachs, for their satisfaction, shall have
vinegar and alegar, and the like, set at liberty. Train-oil

X 3

shall go the same way; oil of blubber shall march in equal
rank; brushes and bottles endure the like judgment.
The patent for pouldavy, if it be not called in, it shall be.
Woade, which, as I take it, is not restrained, either by
law or statute, but only by proclamation, (I mean from
the former sowing,) though for the saving thereof; it might
receive good disputation; yet for your satisfaction, the
Queen's pleasure is to revoke that proclamation ; only
she prayeth thus much, that when she corned/ on progress
to see you in your counties, she be not driven out of your
towns by suffering it to infect the air too near them.
Those that desire to go sprucely in their ruffs, may, at less
charge than accustomed, obtain their wish; the patent for
starch, which bath so smith been prosecuted, shall now
be repealed. But not to make any further performance
of the well-uttered and gravely and truly delivered speech
of the Speaker, I must crave your favours a little longer
to make an apology for myself. I have held the favour
of this House as dear as as my life, and I have been told
that I deserved to be taxed yesterday of the House. I
protest my zeal to have the business go forward in a right
and hopeful course; and my fear to displease Her Majesty
by a harsh and rash proceeding, made me so much to lay
aside my discretion, that I said, it might rather be termed
a school than a council, or to that effect. But

1,y this
speech, if any think I called him school-boy, he both
wrongs me and mistakes me.

Shall I tell you what Demosthenes said to the clamours
which the Athenians made? That they were

puerilesdignos pueris.' And yet that was to a popular state.
And I wish that, whatsoever' is here spoken, may be
buried within these walls. Let us take example of the
Jewish synagogue, who would always

sepelire senatuntcum honore, and not blast their own follies and imperfec-

tions. If any man in this House speak wisely, we do him
great wrong to interrupt him ; if foolishly, let us hear him
out, we Shall have the more cause to tax him. And I- do
heartily pray, that no member of this House may plus
verbis offenders quain consilio ,juvare.' — New Parliament-
ary History, vol. i. p. 934. 1601.

Nova (D.)

SPEAKING of the imprisonment of Mr.Wentworth, who
was committed, by order of the House, to the Tower, for
a speech, in which he said the Queen had committed
dangerous faults, Mr. Hume says, " The issue of the
affair was, that, after a month's confinement, the Queen
sent to the Commons, informing them, that, from her
special grace and favour, she had restored him to his
liberty, and to his place in the House. By this seeming
lenity, she indirectly retained the power, which she had
assumed, of imprisoning the members, and obliging them
to answer before her for their conduct in Parliament
And Sir Walter Mildmay endeavoured to make the'
House sensible of Her Majesty's goodness, in so gently
remitting the indignation, which she might justly conceive
at the temerity of their member. But he informed them,
that they had not the liberty of speaking what and of
whom they pleased; and that indiscreet freedoms, used
in that House, had, both in the present and foregoing
ages, met with a proper punishment. He warned them,
therefore, not to abuse farther the Queen's clemency, lest
she be constrained, contrary to her inclination, to turn an
unsucessfal lenity into a necessary severity."

Hume, vol. v. 4to. p. NO
Y 4




NOTES. 313
: This account is somewhat incorrect. Upon .referring
to the journal of Sir Simon D'Ewes, which Mr. Hume
has quoted,. we find that the Queen did not inform the
House by her message, that she had restored Mr. Went-
worth to Ids liberty and his place in the House; but that
" whereas a member of the same, on the 1st day of this
session, February 8th, in a set speech, uttered divers of-
fensive matters against Her Majesty, and for the same had
been committed prisoner to the Tower by That House;
yet Her Majesty was graciously pleased to remit her justly
occasioned displeasure for the said offbnce ; and to

referthe enlargement of the party to the Mouse." So that she
by no means "indirectly retained the power which she had
assumed of imprisoning the members," by her proceedings
in this case, whatever they may have been on other occa-
sions. This explanation, too, takes away the edge from
Sir Walter Mildmay's speech, the important part of which

here subjoin. It will be seen, that it consists of gene-
ralities, and that Mr. Hume has culled out those parts
only which suited his theory. It must never be forgotten
in reading Mr. I Iume, that he found an opinion established
in England, that the Stuarts had governed like tyrants,
and Elizabeth like a good patriot. He attacked this, as
he did all other established opinions, from a love of argu-
ment and of paradox. He is to the Whig writers and
historians what Bayle is to the ancient and modern 'philo-
sophers. Sometimes he goes so far as to doubt the be-
nefit of liberty altogether. But it is time to pass to Sir
Walter Mildmay. —" That for so gracious a dealing, it was
ottr bounden duties to yield unto Her Majesty our most
hirable and hearty thanks, and to beseech Almighty God
to enlarge her days as the only stay of our felicity; and
not only so, but to learn also, by this example, how to
behave ourselves hereafter; and not, under the pretence

oft liberty, to forget our bounden duty to so gracious
Queen. True it is, that nothing can be well concluded in
a council, where there is not allowed, in debating of causes
brought in, deliberation, liberty, and freedom of speech;
otherwise, if in consultation men be either interrupted or
terrified, so as they cannot, nor dare not, speak their
opinions freely, like as that council cannot but be reputed
for a servile council ; even so all the proceedings therein
shall be rather to satisfy the wills of a few, than to de-
termine- that which shall be just and reasonable. But
herein we may not forget to put a difference between
liberty of speech and licentious speech; for by the one
men deliver their opinions freely, and with this caution;
that all be spoken, pertinently, modestly, reverently,
and discreetly; the other contrariwise uttereth all imper-
tinently, rashly, arrogantly, and irreverently, without
respect of person, time, or place; and though freedom of
speech hath always been used in this great council ofParlia-
ment, and is a thing most necessary to be preserved amongst
us, yet the same was never, nor ought to be, extended
so far, as though a man in this House may speak What
and of whom he list. The contrary whereof, both in our
own days and in the days of our predecessors, by the pu-
nishment of such inconsiderate and disorderly speakers,
hath appeared. And so to return, let this serve us for an
example, to beware that we offend not in the like here-
after, lest that, in forgetting our duties so far, we may. give
just cause to our gracious Sovereign to think that this
'her clemency bath given occasion of further boldness, and
thereby so much grieve and provoke her, as, contrary to
her most gracious and mild consideration, she be con-
strained to change her natural clemency into necessary
and just severity ;. a thing that I trust shall never happen

No TE (E.)

I T is singular, that in the rest of the chapter, Machiavel
seems to have given directions to persons in the situation
of Cromwell and Bonaparte. He tells us, that those who
have become tiranni' of their country ought to examine
what the people wish for; and that they will always find
they wish for two things : the one, revenge upon those
who have been the cause of their servitude; and the other,
the restoration of their liberty. In the first of these, the
new prince may satisfy them completely. In the second,
he may satisfy them in part. For if he analyses the wish
of the people for liberty, he will find, that a small part
only desire it for the sake of power, and that the great
majority only desire liberty, that they may live in security.
The few he may either remove, or raise to such posts and
dignities as will satisfy them; the many will be contented
by the enactment of just laws, and a strict observance of
them on the part of the sovereign. Thus, he says, the
kings of France disposed of the arms and money of the
state; but in other things, obeyed the laws. Napoleon,
who was a great reader of Machiavel, seems to have ta.kon
the advice which is here given by the most profound of
political writers,


IT may not be uninteresting to the reader, to read an
account of two cases in which the poor man, with the law


on his side, triumphed over the pretensions of the highest
persons in the kingdom. The first is the more curious, as
a relation of it is contained in a letter of Lord Thurlow
to a nephew of Mr. Justice Foster. It was a prosecution
against the Princess Amelia, for stopping up a foot-path in
Richmond Park.


I write, at the hazard of your thinking me imper-
tinent, to give you the pleasure of hearing that of your
uncle, which, in all probability, you will not hear from
him; I mean the great honour and general esteem which
he has gained, or rather accumulated, by his inflexible and
spirited manner of trying the Richmond cause, which
has been so long depending, and so differently treated by
other judges. You have heard what a deficiency there
was of the special jury, which was imputed to their back-
wardness to serve a prosecution against the Princess. He
has fined all the absentees 201. apiece. They made him
Nall two hours, and, at last, resort to a tales. When the
prosecutors had gone through part of their evidence, Sir
Richard Lloyd, who went down on the part of the Crown,
said, that it was needless for them to go on upon the right,
as the Crown was not prepared to try that, this being an
indictment which could not possibly determine it, because
the obstruction was charged to be in the parish of Wim-
bleton, whereas it was, in truth, in Mortlake, which was
a distinct parish from Wimbleton. They maintained their
own poor, upheld their own church, and paid tithes to
their own parson ; and Domesday I3ook mentions Mort-
lake. On the other side, it was said, that Domesday Book
mentions it as a baron's fee, and not as a parish; and that
the survey in the time of Henry VIII. mentions Wimbleton
cant ceilidhs anis annexis, and also, that a grant of it in the


amongst wise and dutiful men, such as the members of
this House are thought always to be."


time of Edward VI. makes a provision of tithes for the
vicar, to officiate in the chapel of Mortlake. The judge
turned to the jury, and said, he thought they were come
there to try a right, which the subject claimed to a way
through Richmond Park, and not to cavil about little law
objections, which have no relation to that right. Ile
said, it is proved to be in Wimbleton parish; but it would
have been enough, if the place, in which the obstruction
was charged, had been only reputed to be in Wimbleton,
because the defendant and jury must have been as sen-
sible of that reputation, as the prosecutors ; but had it not
been so, he should have thought it below the honour of
the Crown, after this business had been depending three
assizes, to send one of their select council, not to try the
right, but to hinge upon so small a point as this. Upon
which Sir Richard Lloyd made a speech, setting forth the
gracious disposition of the King in suffering this cause to
be tried, which he could have suppressed with a single
breath, by ordering a nolle prosequi to be entered. The
judge said, he was not of that opinion. The subject is
interested in such indictments as these, for continuing
nuisances, and can have no remedy but this, if their rights
be encroached upon ; wherefore he should think it a denial
of justice to stop a prosecution for a nuisance, which his
whole prerogative does not extend to pardon. After
which, the evidence was gone through ; and the-

summed up. shortly, but clearly, for the prosecutors.*

It gave me, who am a stranger to him, great pleasure to
hear, that we have one English judge, whom nothing can
tempt or frighten, ready and able to hold up the laws of
his country, as a great shield of the rights of the people. I
presume it will give you still greater to hear, that your

*. The defendant was convicted. See Burr. 908, 909.

NOTES. 317

friend and relation is that judge : and that is the only
apology I have to make for troubling you with this.

I am, dear Sir,
Your most humble servant,

E. THettLow.
Fig-Tree Court, Inner Temple,

April 11. 1758.
Life of Sir M. Foster, p. 85.

The other case is related of the father of Mr. Horne
Tooke, a poulterer, in London.

" As Mr. Horne lived in Newport-Street, he was, of
course, a near neighbour to his royal highness, Frederic
Prince of Wales, father to His present Majesty, who then
kept his court at Leicester House. Some of the officers
of the household, imagining that an outlet towards the
market would be extremely convenient to them, as well
as the inferior domestics, orders were immediately issued
for this purpose. Accordingly, an adjoining wall was cut
through, and a door placed in the opening, without any
ceremony whatsoever, notwithstanding it was a palpable
encroachment on, and violation of, the property of a
private individual. In the midst of this operation, Mr.
Horne appeared, and calmly remonstrated against so glar-
ing an act of injustice, as the brick partition actually
appertained to him, and the intended thoroughfare would
lead through, and consequently depreciate the value of his

" It soon appeared, however, that the representations of
a dealer in geese and turkies, although backed by law and
reason, had but little effect on those, who acted in the
name, and, in this instance, abused the authority of a
prince, who was probably unacquainted with the circum-
stances of the transaction.

al 8 N OTEs.
"On this, he appealed from the insolence of office' to

the justice of his country ; and, to the honour of our
municipal jurisprudence, the event proved different from
what it would have been, perhaps, in any other kingdom
of Europe ; for a tradesman of Westminster triumphed
over the heir-apparent of the English crown, and orders
were soon after issued for the removal of the obnoxious
door." — Life of IIorne Tooke, vol. i. p. 11.

NOTF. (G.)

MR. HumE makes what I conceive to be a remark calcu-
lated to mislead, when he says, in his history of Charles I.,
—" Some men of the greatest parts and most extensive
knowledge that the nation at this time produced, could
not enjoy any peace of mind ; because obliged to hear
prayers offered up to the divinity by a priest covered with
a white linen vestment."

The point is certainly ingenious, but, as I conceive, ob-
tained by a sacrifice of candour. Both parties allowed that
the surplice was in itself a matter of indifference.
The objections to the orders concerning the surplice alleged
on the part of the Puritans were three :

1st, That as it was in its essence a matter of indifference,
it ought not to be enjoined like an article of faith- but
every one should be left to do as he pleased.

2d, That although in itself a matter of indifference,
it was not so to the common people ; for many of them
thought no worship to God could be effectual, unless per-
formed in a consecrated garment, and thus the practice
kept alive a superstitious notion.

5d, Above all, the Puritans urged that no secular per-
son had the right to give orders on this subject. Mr.
Cartwright says — " Christ, and no other, is head of the



church. No civil magistrate, in councils or assemblies
for church matters, can either be chief moderator, over-
ruler, judge, or determiner ; nor has he such authority as
that without his consent it should not be lawful for
ecclesiastical persons to make church-orders or cere-

In the same sense Mr. Axton, when examined by his
bishop, said, " I admit Her Majesty's supremacy so far as
if there be any error in the governors of the church, she
has power to reform it ; but I do not admit her to be an
ecclesiastical elder, or church governor."1- It is true the
Puritans would call the surplice " idolatrous geare, "
and other worse names, when they had grown warm in
controversy; but they told Archbishop Parker that had the
habits and a few ceremonies been left indifferent, they
never would have left the church ; but " it was the com-
pelling these things by law made them separate."

In fine, the doctrine of the Puritans, or Presbyterians
asserted the " word of God contained in the Old and
New Testament to be a perfect rule of faith and man-
ners."§ They maintained that the church ought to be
governed by this rule only, — that ceremonies and obser-
vances should he as few as possible, and should not be
imposed by command of any superior whatever, but left to
the free choice of the church itself. They condemned not
other churches that differed in ceremonies from theirs, but
protested against all dictation on the subject. They held
that " no pastor ought to usurp dominion over another;"
and that " the pastor should be chosen by the congre-
gation." II

Neale, vol. i. p. 135. f Ibid. p. 260. Ibid. p. 230,
§ Confession of Faith of Members of the Prophesyings.

Neale, p. 276.
II Confession of Faith of the Prisoners in Newgate. — Neale.


Printed by A. and . 'L'o
Printers-Strc tPLon

320 NOTES.

Thus we see that the question of the surplice was
connected with a great scheme of ecclesiastical reform ;
a scheme adopted and established in the native country
of Mr. Hume; and which, whatever may be thought of
its efficacy to make men better and wiser, was at least
not unworthy of " men of the greatest parts and most
extensive knowledge."


Tuts Act was passed in 1664. There is nothing more
remarkable in our history, or less noticed, than the noble
manner in which the Dissenters forgot, in favour of the
common cause, the severity with which they were treated.
In 1672 they urged the House of Commons to pass the
Test Act without any clause in their favour, contenting
themselves with a motion for a separate bill of toleration,
which was not likely to pass. After the persecution of the
reign of Charles H. they joined the church during the
reign of James ; neither alienated by the harsh treatment
they had received, nor allured by the indulgence offered
on the part of the King. It is to be regretted that the
church have found it inconsistent with their duty to imi-
tate the liberality and public spirit of their dissenting