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We are however always to keep in mind this important distinction ; that, in real juries there is to be, if possible, perfect indifference between the parties at issue; and, in criminal trials, this indifference is obtained by the crown challenging and striking off all such as can be suspected of partiality to the accused; and by the accused, in like manner, striking off all such as, from influence or from mere opinion, can be suspected of the least leaning to the crown, that could influence the uprightness of their verdict. But it is only metaphorically that a house of commons is called a jury; and it is a mere figure of speech, when we speak of it as a national inquest. It is indeed a part of its duty to inquire into all abuses of power; but then, when it have made the discovery, it is to impeach and prosecute; whence we see that it is no jury, intended to be indifferent between the crown and the people themselves; not .at all in the nature of an indifferent jury between parties at issue, but the attorney of one of the parties to oppose all improper attempts of the other; and in the words of Mr. Burke, " it was not instituted to be a "controul upon the people," but " a controul for the "people,"! over the crown and its ministers. If therefore it would be infamous for a party at issue, in an ordinary trial for ten pounds, to bribe a single juryman, or for one of the parties corruptly to get upon the jury even one of his own servants; it must be a thousand times more infamous, habituated as we are to the abominable sight, corruptly to thrust into a commons house of parliament, half the king's ministers, and an immense host of placemen and hungry dependents!!' What should we have thought, if upon the trial of J.ord Thanet, or Mr. Wakefield, or Thomas Hardy, the Attorney General had paid no regard to the law, (as others pay none to the constitution,) nor to the challenges of the accused, but supported by the Judge, had thrust upon the jury a majority from those very servants of the crown, who in the spring of 1794 had been upon the Committee of Secrecy, of the People's Attor
1 Burke's Thought* on the Cause of the present Discontents, j, 68." t
Nies, or House of Commons, appointed to investigate the proceedings of the popular societies ; as tor instance Mr. Pitt, Mr. Dundas, now Lord Melville, Mr. Jenkinson, (now Lord Hawkesbury,) Lord Mulgrave, Lord Mornington, (now Marquis of Wellesley,) Mr. R. Dundas, (then Lord Advocate) and Mr. Burke, the Pensioner .' Could we have been surprized if such a monstrous proceeding for destroying an individual, had produced a revolution destructive of the entire government ?—But do we not see the exact counterpart of all this, for the purpose of destroying the liberty of the -whole nation, and seizing on its whole property, in the present construction of a house of commons?
It may be considered as very extraordinary, that, from the accession of Charles the first, in lf>25, to the end of that century, a period abounding with the greatest patriots and the most illustrious writers, no one, not even Coke or Milton, Harrington or Locke, should have discussed with precision, as a distinct subject, that part ot the science of civil government, which includes the whole theory of Representation, including of course the right duration of the representative body: and this defect is the more remarkable, because the English constitution in its purity, agreeably both to antient practice, and to the eternal principles of truth and justice, applying to this particular branch of knowledge,which are abundantly scattered through the old books of our law, contained all the elements of this part of the science, constituting the proud distinction of that constitution, over every other in the world: and it is more surprizing that this part of the science of government should have been so overlooked, when it is certain, that every violation of liberty by Charles the first, by the long parliament, by the army after the death of Charles, by Cromwell, by Charles the second,by James the second, nor must L except William the third, were nil, without exception, the consequences of wanting a legislative representation agreeable in all particulars to the principles of the science of civil government, and to the principles of tfie English Constitution. All the authors 1 have named, with Nedham, Ludlow, Sidney, Houkert and in short every writer friendly to the liberties of his country incidentally ground their arguments on some of the principles referred to; but Locke the most; and Prynne and Johnson lay great stress on a short duration of parliaments; and the septennial act of 1716, afterwards gave rise to much good argumentation against that unprincipled stretch of power; which was frequently revived, but chiefly in parliament; but still, nothing luminous and satisfactory as a whole, and embracing all that belongs to Representation, was attempted till three parts in four of another century had elapsed. On this topic, we read Bolinbroke, Hume, and Blackstone, with no instruction; nay the latter rather teaches us ignorance than knowledge; at which we must not be surprized, when it is a fact, that his celebrated Commentaries on our laws, had run through several editions before the word ConstituTion found a place in the Index. Mine is the sixth edition, and in the Index to that no such word occurs; ijor in the work itself is there any evidence, that it had ever occured to its learned author, that there was a distinction between the constitution and the lawj which yet is as palpable to any attentive observer, as the distinction between a Constituent and a Representative Body; or between a Legislature and an Executive Government.
As free discussion in our mother tongue banished from our country its papal ignorance and folly, and effected a reformation in matters of religion, which, as embracing our views and interests in another world, is doubtless attended with serious difficulties; so, a fortiori, it must be concluded that representation, which merely relates to the plain business of this life, will by free discussion become perfectly understood; in which case it must produce a reformation in maiters of civil government: and as experience shews that on this point we have now perhaps little or nothing to learn, that reformation therefore cannot be far distant; especially as the political popery of the day cannot inspire the people with any fear of eternal damnation, for listening to the reformers; while the monstrous absurdities and iniquities of that political popery shock every unprejudiced mind to which they are presented; and the temporal ruin and misery in its train must shortly drive the nation into the reformation as the only haven of its salvation.
But let me return to the practical violation of ReyRESENTATioN I was noticing. In the newspaper publication above mentioned, we had at the same time an account of the distribution of the 558 members, of whom the house then consisted ; as follows:
Returned by the influence of, or nominated 7 by Peers, :. . . $
By Commoners having Boroughs 159
By the Treasury, 22
By the voice of the People, \ [says the statement,} 3
Admitting for a moment the accuracy of this distribution, and likewise admitting for a moment, the whole of the hundred Irish members, to be chosen by the voice of the people, yet even then this statement would shew that nearly two parts in three of the present six hundred and fifty eight members of which the house cbnsisis, is returned by Peers, other Borough Proprietors, and the Treasury; and this without regard to the Bribes, afterwards given in the shape of
offices, commissions, and employments of honour or emolument," to one fourth part or more of the whole house; for I have not yet spoken of any placemen, among the one hundred Irish members. But, were we rigidly to scrutinize the grounds upon which it is assumed that, 134 members were, "returned by the voice of the People," I fear we should find it difficult to ascertain that even ten—a number that would have saved Sodom,—are now so returned ; for certain I am, that in those places, where there is, to the eye of ignorance, the greatest show of popular freedom, it is more in show than substance ; and that the utter impossibility, of men of moderate fortunes standing a contest, added to all other causes, does in fact nearly destroy every
trace of really free elections, such as the principles of the English Constitution require, and such as the practice of English America exhibits.
For ought that I know to the contrary, a considerable proportion of the gentlemen now in parliament, might under the purest elective system, be returned as Representatives of the People. The objection at present is not personally to men, but to means. In members of parliament we want Representatives, not arbitrary lords and masters; faithful stewards to take care of our estate; not bribed agents, to swindle us out of the estate, and put another in possession; honest attornies to transact our business with the Crown, not kidnappers to clap us in chains, and sell us to a slavemaster: and the very man who, under a bad system, may be tempted to play the kidnapper or-the despot, under a good system, may be a very attentive, diligent, faithful representative.
One striking feature in the present system is the expence; so that no man possessing such estates as those of a Shippen, a Marvel, a Milton, or a Locke, although possessing merit, as transcendent as such bright examples of public virtue, can now enter the house of commons, except as the dependents of great men, a condition to which no such men could submit. The evil of expence is properly noticed in the well known petition, standing on ihe Journal of the Commons, for the 6th of May 1793 ; where amongst other matter it is said,—" That the expence to each of the parties, who * have been either plaintiff or defendant in petitions, "tried before your honourable house in the present