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myself with only giving a silent vote. I feel myself under a strong necessity of saying something more; the subject requires it, and though the hour is late, I shall demand your indulgence, while I offer my sentiments on this motion. What part I took previously in this matter shall ever remain with myself. I have, I must confess, deposited it in the breast of one of the royal family, but, resting secure in that confidence, I shall never declare it to any other.
I am sure, my lords, many of you must remember from your reading and experience, several persons expelled the house of commons, without ever this house once pretending to interfere, or call in question by what authority they did so. I remember several myself (here his lordship quoted several cases with great strength of memory), in all which, though most of the candidates were sure to be re-chosen, they never once applied, resting contented with the expulsatory power of the house, as the only self-sufficient dernier resort of application. It has been echoed on all sides, from the partizans of this motion, that the house of commons acted illegally, in accepting colonel Luttrell, who had but 296 votes, in preference to Mr. Wilkes, who had 1143 ; but this is a mistake of the grossest nature ima. ginable, and which nothing but the intemperature of people's zeal could possibly transport them to. As Mr. Wilkes had been previously considered by the laws as an unqualified person to represent the people in parliament; therefore, it appears very plainly, that colonel Luttrell had a very great majority, not less than 296, Mr. Wilkes being considered as nobody in the eye of the law; consequently colonel Luttrell had no legal opposition.
În all contested elections, where one of the parties think themselves not legally treated, I should be glad to know to whom it is they generally resort. Is it to the freeholders of the borough, or to the county they would represent, or is it to the people at large? Who cannot see, at once, the absurdity of such a question ? Who is
so ignorant of our laws, that cannot immediately reply
“ It is to the house of commons, who are the only judges to determine every nicety of the laws of elections,
and from whom there is no appeal, after they have once given their determination.” All the freehold er can do, is to determine on his object by giving him his vote-the ultimate power lies with the house of commons, who are to judge of his being a legal object of representation in the several branches of his qualifications. This, my lords, I believe, is advancing no new doctrine, nor adding an iota to the extension of the prie vilege of a member of the house of commons, more than what the constitution has long ago given him. Yet, here is a cry made, in a case that directly applies to what I have been speaking of, as if it was illegal, arbitrary, and unprecedented.
I do not remember, my lords, either in the course of my reading or observation, ever to know an instance of a person being re-chosen, after being expelled, till the year 1711. Then, indeed, my memory serves me with a case of sir Robert Walpole ; he was expelled the house of commons, and was afterwards re-chosen ; but this last event did not take place till the meeting of the next parliament; and during that interval I find no debate about the illegality of his expulsion, no interference of the house of lords, nor no addresses from the public to decry that measure, by a dissolution of parliament.
Indeed, as for a precedent of one house interfering with the rules, orders, or business of another, my memory does not serve me at present with the recollection of a single one. As to the case of Titus Oates, as mentioned by the noble lord in my eye (lord Chatham,) he is very much mistaken in regard to the mode : his was a trial in the king's bench, which, on a writ of error, the house of commons interfered in, and they had an authority for so doing. A judge certainly may be mistaken in points of law- The wisest and the best of us may be so at times, and it reflects no discredit; on the contrary, it
does particular honour, where he finds himself so mis. taken, to reverse his own decree ; but for one house of parliament, interfering with the business, and reversing the resolutions of another, it is not only unprecedented, but unconstitutional to the last degree.
But suppose, my lords, that this house coincided with this motion; suppose we all agreed, nem. con. “ to repeal and rescind the resolutions of the house of commons in regard to the expulsion and incapacitation of Mr. Wilkes ;'-_Good God, what may be the consequence ! The people are violent enough already; and to have the superior branch of legislation join them, would be giving such a public encouragement to their proceedings, that I almost tremble, while I even suppose such a scene of anarchy and confusion.
I remember, my lords, an anecdote of Roman history, 'as told us by that justly celebrated historian, Livy. At a period when the people of Rome thought their senate were acting unconstitutionally, they had formed a scheme of giving them up into the hands of the enemy. Determined on this opinion, they were for some time waiting but for an opportunity ; when one of their leaders, on whose valour, wisdom, and integrity they had the last dependence, diverted them from their intentions, by reminding them “ that by this revolution they might pro-, bably change for worse masters.” From the inference that may be drawn from this anecdote, and for the reasons I have already mentioned to your lordships, I am against this bill.
Was the son of sir John Pratt, and born in the year 1713. He was
educated at Cambridge. He made little figure for many years after he was called to the bar; but at length, by the interest of the chancellor Henley, he obtained considerable practice, and was recommended by him to the friendship of Mr. Pitt, afterwards lord Chatham. "By this means, he successively rose to the stations of attorney-general, chief justice of the common pleas, and lord chancellor. He distinguished himself in the latter situations by taking a decided part against the government, in favour of Wilkes. For this, he had the freedom of the city of London voted him in a gold box, and his portrait was stuck up in Guildhall. He was made president of the council after the American war, which situation he held till his death, in 1794. He appears to have been a mere party man, without any abilities whatever,
and without that sense of his own deficiencies which atones for the want of them. He was the legal mouth-piece of Chatham, the judicial oracle of the party, who gravely returned the answers that were given him by the political priesthood, of whom he was the organ. He was one of those dull, plodding, headstrong, honest men, with whom so large a part of the community naturally sympathise, and of whom it is always convenient to have one at least in every administration, or antiministerial party. To the generality of mankind, dulness is the natural object of sympathy and admiration ; it is the element in which they breathe ; it is that which is best fitted to their gross capacities. The divinity of genius is itself too dazzling an object for them to behold, and requires the friendly interposition of some thick cloud to dim its lustre, and blunt the fierceness of its rays. The people love to idolize greatness in some vulgar representation of it, and to worship their own likeness in stocks and stones. Lord Camden was just the man to address those who can only assent, but cannot reason. With inen of this character, the strength of the reasoning always weakens the force of the argument; their heads will only bear a certain quantity of thought, and by attempting to enlighten, you only confound their understandings. Any thing like proof always operates as a negative quantity upon their prejudices, because it puts them out of their way, and they cannot
into any other. Nothing can be more feeble than the following reply of his to lord Mansfield, in which he had pledged himself to prove I know not what. He was more ready to throw down his pledges than to redeem them, (to speak in the parlia
mentary style.) This was of little consequence. Though often foiled, it did not abate his ardour, or lessen his confidence : he was still staunch to his cause, and (no matter whether right or wrong in his argument,) he was always sure of his conclusion. The less success a man has in maintaining his point, the more does he shew his steadiness and attachment to his object in persevering in it in spite of opposition'; and the proof of fortitude which he thus gives must naturally induce all those of the same sanguine disposi. tion, who have the same zeal and the same imbecility in the defence of truth, to make common cause with him. Such was lord Camden ; of whom, however, (lest I should seem to have conceived some hasty prejudice against him,) I must confess that I am by no means convinced that he was not quite as great a man as the generality of those who have risen by the same gardations to the same high offices that he did, either before or since his time,
His Speech in Reply.
My Lords, I HAVE reserved myself till now in this debate. Indeed I did not think it necessary to speak after so many of my ingenious friends, who have discussed this subject with an eloquence and integrity that must reflect equal honour on their hearts and abilities; but the sentiments of the noble lord on the wool-sack, just delivered, force me from my seat, and I should think myself wanting in my duty, as a friend to this house, to the constitution, and consequently to the cause I am embarked in, did I forego making some observations on opinions, I think, pregnant with such unconstitutional doctrines.
As to the noble lord's reasons on the first measure of this de. bate-why he concealed them, or what is equally the same, only communicated them in confidence to one person, I have nothing to do with them; they may appear sufficiently cogent to influence him to act so; though I could not reconcile it to myself, in a matter of