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faction. They must not sacrifice the venerable palladium which ages has sanctified, because there had arisen a wild spirit of project; a spirit which had no real foundation, and which was only supported by declamation and surmise,
It was not true that the house of commons had not a full and proper weight. His political life was a proof that it had. Before he was honoured with office he had been in parliament. It was parliament that made him a minister.
It was among the commons that he was first known. He came among them without connection. It was to them that he was indebted for his rise ; and they had pulled him down. He had been the creature of their opinion and their power : his political career was of consequence a proof of their independence. The voice of the commons was sufficient to remove whatever was displeasing to the sentiments and wishes of the country; and in such a situation to parade about a reformation, was idle, unnecessary, dangerous, and inex. pedient,
CONTENDED, that it was unconstitutional to treat with contempt the petitions of the people. The situation of the times called for a reform. The representation of the people was partial and inadequate. The theory of the constitution acknowledges general rights, but in practice establishes incomplete and local privileges. The theory of the constitution supposes a due connection between the people and their representatives; but its practice derides altogether that connection. It is to the want of an impartial and full representation of the people that all the national evils which have arisen of late years were
to be imputed. To this cause the American war was to be ascribed ; a contest in which loss was certain, and advantage impossible ; and there grew out of it the systematic extravagance in the expenditure of public money, and the exorbitant premiums upon loans which had so unhappily distinguished modern times.
To establish a sameness of interest between the people and the house of commons is the object and principle of the resolutions which had been read; and it was an improvement infinitely to be desired. It offers no vio. lence to the rights of any description of men ; is consonant to the genius of our constitution; and perfectly adequate to the grievance complained of. To calumniate innovation, and to decry it, was preposterous and unwise. Had there never been any innovations on the constitution ? Could it be forgotten for one moment, that all the advantages, civil and political, which we enjoy at this hour, were in reality the immediate and fortunate effects of innovation? It was by innovations that the English constitution had grown and flourished. It was by innovations that the house of commons had risen to importance. It was at different æras that the coun . ties and towns were empowered to elcct representatives. Even the office of speaker was an innovation ; for it was not heard of till the reign of Richard II. What was more, the freedom of speech, which was now valued so highly, was an innovation ; for there were times when no member dared to give reign to his sentiments; and when his head must have answered for the boldness of his tongue. To argue against innovations was to argue against improvements of every kind. When the followers of Wickliffe maintained the cause of humanity and reason against absurdity and superstition, “ no innovation” was the cry; and the fires of persecution blazed over the kingdom. Let there be no innovation is the maxim of the ignorant, the interested, and the worthless. It is the favourite tenet of the servile advocate of tyranny. It is the motto which bigotry has in
scribed upon her banners. It is the barrier that opposes every improvement, political, civil, and religious.
To reprobate all innovations on the constitution is to suppose that it is perfect. But perfection was not its attribute, either in the Saxon or Norman times. It is not its attribute in the present moment.
In former ages its defects have been remedied with advantage ; and is no farther care to be extended to it? While it is distant from perfection, it is right to make it approach to it. Altera tions are perpetually necessary in every constitution; for the government should be accommodated to the times, the circumstances of which are ever changing. When the Stuarts ascended the throne, the circumstances of the times and the disposition of the people called for alterations. It was the misfortune of that family to oppose itself to these circumstances and that disposition. The consequences were fatal to it. Our situation required the remedies which were prescribed. The proposed resolutions were salutary. They were the proper means to invigorate a constitution which had run to decay; and they were the only security which could be obtained against the profligacy of the times, the corruption of the people, and the ambition of the crown*.
DUKE OF RICHMOND.
On a motion concerning the putting the Seals into
He was sensible, that there were men by whom every proposition for a reform would be ridiculed as a theory and a chimera. But allowing their fullest weight to such sort of arguments, he was convinced that there were
* I do not recollect more smartness of debate shewn any where than in this and the preceding speech.
such things as original principles ; and that there could not be any impropriety in resorting to these, when the constitution was threatened with encroachments and danger.
He considered that parliament, when corrupted, was the most powerful instrument to destroy the constitution, The next instrument, both with regard to power and danger, was the corruption of the judges. To the topic of the independency of the judges, his thoughts had been drawn very forcibly by the consideration of the commission into which the great seal had lately been put. He meant nothing personal to lord Loughborough, nor to the other judges who were the commissioners for its custody. It was the measure, and not the men, which had employed his reflections.
It was a point not to be disputed, that the independency of the judges was a matter in which every individual in the kingdom was sensibly interested. The uprightness and integrity of men who judged of the property and the lives of the subjects of England, were qualities which were indisputably necessary for the security of the public, and for the equal distribution of the laws of the land. This position, so strong in itself, and so obvious, was well illustrated in our history. In early times, the judges were solely dependent on the pleasure of the crown. Antecedently to the revolution, they were created and deposed at the will of the sovereign. After that great event, they were understood to hold their situations while they could execute their duty with integrity. But prior to the demise of the late king, doubts came to be entertained whether the commissions of the judges did not expire with the sovereign who granted them. To these doubts, an end was put by an act of George III. which declared, that they should continue constantly in office, and be removeable only for crimes, with the exception, that an address of both houses of parliament to the crown, should operate their degradation. From this act, which gave a validity to their commissions dur
ing their lives, while their behaviour was proper; and from an act of King William, which declared that their salaries should be fixed and ascertained ; it was under. stood, that in a free country, they ought to be above every idea of dependence. For without the enjoyment of known and determined salaries, and without commissions for life, they could not with any propriety be considered as independent. Of late years, however, the spirit of these laws. was invaded ; and additions had occasionally been made to the salaries of some of the judges. These partial additions were alarming, as they flowed from the crown: For if an addition of a thousand or two thousand pounds a year could be made to one judge, it might be proffered to all, and accepted by thein ; and thus the judges, who ought to be independent, would become the obedient vassals of the prerogative.
There were two methods of governing men, and of making them dependent. They were directed by their fears and their hopes. Now the acts of king William and of George III. had taken away the fears of the judges ; for the will or pleasure of the crown could not remove them, except for crimes. But if their hopes were not destroyed as well as their fears, the work of their independency was but half atchieved. From the consideration of this circumstance, he had been prompted to submit to the peers the commission lately issued to three lords,* entrusting them with the care of the great seal. It was obvious, that the judges in that commis
had been selected by favour, and not by seniority. This of itself was a peculiarity that was suspicious. But farther, the emoluments which accrued to the holders of the great seal were extensive ; and these, with the
* Right hon. lord Loughborough, lord chief justice of his majesty's court of Common Pleas ; sir William Henry Ashhurst, one of the justices of his majesty's court of King's Bench ; and sir Beaumont. Hotham, one of the barons of his majesty's court of Exchequer.