« 上一頁繼續 »
If the principle that had been laid a measure of necessary policy, the down by Mr. Fox was admitted, that fupreme legislative power might letions were the only teit that ought enact upon the same grounds of exto be resorted to in cases like the pediency. The claim as of right to present, there would be an end of civil oifices, appeared to him perwhat had always been esteemed one fectly absurd and ridiculous, unless of the tests of political wisdoin, the it were agreed, that the ofices in policy of prevention. He considered question were created for the adthe church of England, as by law vantage of those who occupied them, established, to be lo esential a part and not as trufts for the benent of of the constitution, that whatever the public, and that they ought to endangered it, would necefiarily be distributed upon the principle of affect the security of the whole ; public lottery, ia which every man and therefore that it ought to be ought to have an equal chance for guarded with the most watchful jea- a prize. lousy. It was for this reason, he Having argued the question of conceived, that the legislature had right, Mr. Pitt proceeded to consithought fit even to abridge one of fider that of expediency. , And here the undoubted prerogatives of the he gave it as his decided opinion, crown, by preventing the sovereign that the acts in question were nefrom employing persons in offices of cessary to the security of the estatruit, who could not give a certain blihed church. He could not, he pledge of their attachment to the faid, avoid remarking a little on established government in church the conduct of the diffentere, who, and state.
And he reminded the at the moment they were reprobathouse, that our conftitution owed its ing a teit, had pretty publicly indipresent existence to the sanction of cated an intention of forming asso, those laws; that had they not ex ciations throughout the whole couniled, the family of Stuart might try, for the purpose of putting the have been at that time in possession members of that house to a test, and of the throne, and that house de- of resolving to judge of their fitprived of the privilege even of de nefs to fill their seats by their votes liberating upon the question then on this single queftion. They had before them.
explained themselves fince indeed, The constitution, he said, by and declared, that they never meant imvesting the executive power
'with to put a test to any one; in the exthe fole appointment to offices of planation, however, it appeared that trust, and making it ultimately re- they had retained the substance, sponsible for their execution, must though they had done away the be supposed to have joined to it the word : for' in the resolutions of power of judging of the fitness or their meeting, figned by Mr. Jeffeunftness of individuals tò occupy ries, it was declared, that they meant those stations. In the exercise of to give their support to such memthis discretionary authority, the ex bers as proved themselves to be ecutive power might possibly be in- friends to religious and civil liberty, duced, by peculiar circumstances, to the true meaning of which general exclude some certain descriptions of terms must strike every man. It people; and surely what the exe was evident, that the diffenters cutive government might adopt as would not consider any one a friend
ANNUAL REGISTER, 1790. to religious and civil liberty, who impolitic in the extreme; as the did not vote for the repeal of the legislature, if it once suffered the test and corporation acts. In his remedy against such danger to be opinion, therefore, they came with taken out of the hands of the execu.
ill grace to folicit the repeal of a tive government, might not be able teft, when at the same moment they to place it there again when the threatened the house with one. exigence of the times might'ronder
He need not, he said, trouble the it absolutely necessary for the safety house to prove, that the dislenters of the church. would exercise power, if put in pof Mr. Burke concurred with Mr. fefion of it, fince the poffeffion of Foxuponthe general ground of many power always produced the inclina. of his arguments respecting tolera. tion to exercise it; and, without tion, and declared, that had the re meaning to throw any ftigma on the peal been moved for ten years ago dissenters, he could not hesitate a he should probably have joined him moment in supposing it probable, in supporting it; but he had the that they might feel inclined to ex- strongest reasons to believe, tha ercise their power to the subversion many of the persons now calling of the establihed church ; it would themselves disenters, and who ftood be so far from reprehensible in them, the most forward in the present ap: that, pofiessing the principles they plication for relief, were men of profefs, and acting conscientiously factious and dangerous principles upon those principles, it would be. actuated by no motives of religion come their duty, as honest men, to or conscience, to which toleration make the endeavour; for those who could in any rational fense be apconsidered the established church to plied. This led him to be finful and bordering on idolatry, upon the danger and absurdity, ol would not act conscientiously nor recurring to abstract original rights confiftently, unless they exercised in determining civil regulations all the legal means in their power to upon their incompatibility with do away that idolatry.
each other, and upon the advantages The teít laws had been declared which men derived in exchange for inefficacicus and nuga:ory, as the the rights of nature from the esta legislature had been obliged every blishments of civil society, and of its feffion to pass an act of indemnity. neceflary concomitant, religion. If the fact was so, the complaint of Mr. Burke also agreed with Mr. oppression must cease; for, from Fox, that men were not to be judge the right honourable gentleman's ed merely by their speculative opis own argument it was obvious, that nions, but by their opinions and the laws were not inforced. Al conduct taken together. It was by though the temperate forbearance these that he lliould judge how far of government from the execu the petitioners were entitled to the tion of the laws was truly laudable, indulgence they requested; by their when the danger was neither immi- acts, their declarations, and their nent nor alarming to the church, avowed intentions. whose permanent safety was their Mr. Burke then produced and object; yet, to repeal the laws in read to the house, several authentic question, because their execution documents to subftantiate the allewas not always necessary, would be gations he had before made :
Amongst these was a catechism cire other test ought to be substituted, culated amongst the dissenters, ex He said he had a draft of another pressly adopted by some and pub. test in his pocket, and he had formliciy condemned by none, which, ed an idea of moving the previous instead of teaching the principles of question, with a view afterwards to revealed religion, was full of the move for a committee to examine most audacious libels upon the na into the recent conduct of the diftional establishments and continued senters. He did not with the house invectives upon kings and bishops. to rely on his facts before he had Another was a letter written by establiihed them by proof, of which Mr. Fletcher, a dissenter, from a he knew them to be capable. If, meeting of diffenting ministers, however, they should, upon inveitholden at Bolton, in Lancashire. gation, not appear to be founded, he Mr. Fletcher stated in his letter, would hold himíelf bound to vote. that the meeting avowed such vio- for the repeal of the test and corpolent principles, that he would not ration acts. If they should think stay, but came away with some other the best way of laying the question moderate men. It asserted, that at rest, would be by coming to a. one member, on being asked what vote upon the motion, he would subwas their object, and whether they mit. meant to seek for any thing more Mr. Fox mad: a long reply, in than the repeal of the test and cor which he particularly urged the inporation acts, answered, in the lan- justice of deciding a general quesguage of our Saviour, “ We know tion of right upon the conduct of a “ those things, which ye are not yet few individuals: after which the “ able to bear.” And on another house divided, for the motion 105, member's saying,
- Give them a against it 294. “ little light into what we intend,” The next question of importance they informed him, that they did not which engaged the consideration of care the nip of a straw for the repeal the house of commons, was a motion of the test and corporation acts, but made by Mr. Flood, on the 4th of that they designed to try for the abo- March, for leave to bring in a bill lition of the tythes and liturgy. In to amend the representation of the addition to these documents, he read people in parliament. several well-known extracts from The grounds upon which Mr. the writings of Doctor Priestley and Flood proceeded were these: That Doctor Price, expressive of their hol as, by the general law of the constitility to all establiihments, their per- tution, the majority is to decide for fuafion that those of religion were the whole, the representative must sinful and idolatrous, and their de-' be chosen by a body of constituents, termination to proceed ftep by step whereof the elective franchise may till they were demolished.
extend to the majority of the peoMr. Burke concluded his speech ple. For, if the constituent body by declaring it to be his opinion, consisted of but one thousand for on account of the many alarming the whole nation, the representatives and suspicious circumstances, under chosen by that thousand could not, which the present application came in
any rational sense, be the actual to parliame that if the test and representative of the people. That corporation acts were repealed, some nothing less than a conitituent bo
dy, formed on a principle that ex- and in their appointment two things tends to the majority, can be con to be considered ; one, that ftitutionally adequate to the return they should be numerous enough, of an actual representative of the because numbers are necessary to people ; and that unless the people the spirit of liberty ; the other, be actually representéd, they are not that they should have a competent conftitutionally represented at all. degree of property, because that is He admitted that property, to a conducive to the spirit of order. certain degree, is a necessary ingre To supply this deficiency, both dient to the elective power; that is in the representative and constituent to say, that franchise ought not to body, Mr. Flood proposed, that one go beyond property; but at the same hundred members hould be added, time it ought to be as nearly com- and that they fhond be elected by the menfurate to it as pofible. Pro- resident householders in every county perty, by the original principle of resident: first, because they mud the conititution, was the fource' of be best acquainted with every local all power, both elective and legisla- circumstance; and next, because they tive: the liberi tenenies, including can attend at every place of elecat that time, in effect, the whole tion, with the least inconvenience Property of the country, and ex and expence to themselves, or to tending to the mass of the people, the candidate :-Householders, bewere the elective body. The per- cause being masters of families, they fons whom they chose to represent must be sufficiently responsible to he them in parliament, fat in right of entitied to franchise.
There is no the property of their electors; and country in the world, he said, in the barons fat in right of their own which the householders of it are baronies; that is to say, of their own considered as the rabble--no counproperty. At that time the latter' try can be said to be free, where were not creatures of royal patent as they are not ailowed to be efficient
But now that the lords are citizens; they are, exclusive of the creatures of royal patent merely, and rabble, the great mass of the peothat freehoid property is but a part ple; they are the natural guards of the property of the nation, the na- of popular liberty in the first stages tional property is not as fully repre- of it-without them it cannot be fented as it was originally, and as retained ; as long as they have this it ought to be ftill by the conftitu. conftitutional influence, and till they tion --That the conitituent body is become generally corrupt, popular also defeftive in poini of number, liberty cannot be taken away. as well as in point of property; the In order to evince the necessity whole number of electors being in of the reform proposed, Mr. Flood finitely short of what it ought to be, used the following argument: The and, what is worte, the majority of conftitution, he said, consists of the representatives who decide for three orders, one monarchical, one the whole, chosen by a number of arillocratic, and one popular; the electors not exceeding fix or eight balance consists in maintaining the thousand ; though these represen- equipoise between them. This batatives are to act for eight millions lance was lost in the first part
of the of people. That a new body of Norman æra; it was recovered in conitituents is therefore wanting ; some degree afterwards; it was im
paired again in the period of the people will pay more taxes with Tudors and Stuarts ; at the revolu- greater alacrity, than a people that tion it is suppoied to have been again are not free; and he adds the rearecovered. Let us fce whether it fon, because they have a compenfahas not been impaired fince. The tion in the rights they enjoy. The lords have been the most stationary people of England pay fitteen mil. part; yet, by a great increase of lions and a half annually to the their numbers of late, the upper
This purchase they pay "house has obtained a great many for the conftitution. Shall they not patrimonial and private boroughs'; have the benefit of it. Every indithereby obtaining an influence over vidual pays fifty shillings a year. the house of commons, which does, How many enjoyments must every not constitutionally belong to them. inferior individual relinquish, and But the great alteration has hap- how much labour muß he undergo, pened on the part of the crown. to enable hiin to make this contriOn this point he quoted the autho- bution ? No people ever delerved rity of Mr. Justice Blackfione and better of government than the peoMr. Hume ; and, lastly, the memo- ple of this country, at this moment; rable revolution of the house of they liave not only submitted with commons.o' that the influence of alacrity to this enormous' mass of " the crown had increased, was taxation, but when the health or “increasing, and ought to be di the rights of their sovereign were «s minished." Does any man, he at stake, they gathered around the faid, doubt this authority? Were throne with unexampled zeal: Can not they who voted it witnesses of such a people be denied their privithe fa&, as well as judges of the leges Can their privileges be a propofitioa? But it does not reft subject of indifference or remiffness on their authority; an act of the to this house? I cannot believe it; whole legislature has since con and therefore I move for leave to firmed their words--they have been bring in a bill to amend the repren made ftatute by the act of reform fentation of the people in parliathat pasied afterwards. But what has happened since ? An East India The inotion was feconded by bill has passed, and a declaratory Mr. Grigby, and opposed by Mr. law. And what is the consequence? Wyndham, who observed, that, in No man who has any modeity, or his opinion, before the house could who ever expects to be credited, receive the motion, the right howill deny, that by those laws more nourable gentleman ought first to influence has been corveyed to the make out some specific grievance, crown, or the minister, than was' arising out of the present mode of fubtracted by that act of reform. reprefentation, and then propose his Afer answering the objections that remedy; and when the houle were might be made to his motion as ill put in poflemon of both, it would timed, innovating on the conftitu- be for them to judge how far the tion, and tending to excite discon first was ascertained and the second tents among the people, Mr. proportionate, and to decide whe. Flood concluded to the following ther the remedy ought to be adopt. effect :
ed or not. Mr. Flood had said, that Montesquieu has said, that a free the representation was inadequate,