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who have purchased a beneficial lease, which they are by all and by any means to turn most to their own ad. vantage.
That this, sir, is our present situation, is abundantly proved by the experience of every day. Sir, you have silently heard in that chair more than one member of this house dare to assert, that their constituents have no right to instruct them, and that they do not think themselves under any obligations to obey the instructions of those who sent them hither. Sir, if any further argu. ment was wanting to justify my motion for leave to bring in a bill to shorten the duration of parliament, his majesty himself has been most graciously pleased to furnish the strongest in its favour; I mean the answer which he has been advised to give to the petition of sixty thousand electors of England, who have petitioned him for a dissolution of parliament. Their petitions, sir, set forth, that this house of commons has violated the right of election, and that their constituents have no further confidence in them, but disclaim both them and their proceedings. To all these petitions, except one, his majesty has been silent, disdaining even an answer to his subjects: to one of them, indeed, he was constrained to reply; and therefore his answer to the city of London must be considered as the answer to them all. He tells them, mocking their dutiful expressions, that he should ill discharge his duty as a father to his people, if he made so unconstitutional a use of his prerogative as to grant their humble request. Now, sir, at the same time that his majesty is advised to think it an unconstitutional use of his prerogative to dissolve this parliament at the request of the electors, who state that they are not their representatives, I shall take leave to tell you what his majesty has been advised to think are constitutional and proper uses of his prerogative. It is a constitutional use, it seems, of his prerogative, to issue an illegal proclamation. It is a constitutional use of his prerogative, to grant a noli prosequi, when a grand jury finds bills of
indictment for breaches of the peace. It is a constitutional use of his prerogative, to appoint to offices of great public trust popish recusants incapacitated by law. It is a constitutional use of his prerogative, to direct his troops wantonly to butcher his helpless, unarmed subjects; to support, defend, and reward such as were most active in that butchery; and to return formal public thanks to them all, for their alacrity in destroying those by whose honest industry both he and they are fed. It is a constitutional and an honest use of his prerogative, to order for execution misguided poor men, who were convicted upon a surreptitious rider of an unreasonable penal statute, notwithstanding the whole court before whom they were tried joined in representing to him that they did not believe the parties guilty, and recommended them as proper objects of mercy. It is a constitu. tional use of his prerogative, to pardon malefactors convicted on the common law of England of the most atrocious and aggravated murders, notwithstanding the judges before whom they were tried represented to him, that they were convicted by the clearest evidence, and were by no means proper objects of his royal mercy. It is a constitutional use of his prerogative, to prorogue a parliament in a sister kingdom, when regulations were to be made, without which their manufactures could not be carried on, and when none of the private business for the advantage of the country was finished, merely be. cause they acted as real representatives of the people, and would not lend themselves to support the perni. cious measures of the crown. It is a constitutional use of his prerogative, to dissolve the American assemblies (though not requested by the electors) because they would insist on preserving the rights of their constituents, and would not become the creatures of the royal governors. Such, and many more such, are the uses which his majesty has been persuaded to make of his prerogative. Both the uses which he has made, and the uses which he has not made of his prerogative, added
to the abuses of parliament, are incontestible reasons for my motion. This, sir, is all that I shall at present say upon the question : if any objection shall be made, or argument urged against it, I will answer them as well as I am able. I will not therefore now take up more of your time, but conclude with a motion, that leave be given to bring in a bill to shorten the present duration of parliaments.
COLONEL (afterwards Gen.) BURGOYNE,
Was the natural son of lord Bingley. His defeat and capture by
general Gates determined the issue of the contest with America. As a writer and a speaker, he had more success, though he aimed at more than he effected. His Heiress is a feeble, though a very elegant comedy ; and in his speeches, which are modelled accord ing to the rules of Cicero, his own abilities and his own modesty take up half of the paper, and the reader's attention is equally di. vided between the speaker and the subject. At the same time, if they were a little less affected, they would not be without merit.
I rise in consequence of the notice I gave to the house, to make a motion of as serious importance, as, I believe, ever came under your consideration, to the interest and honour of the nation : to the interest of it, in as much as the influx of wealth from India makes a vital part of our existence; to the honour of it, in as much as the most atrocious abuses that ever stained the name of civil government, call for redress. For the substance of this motion I shall make no apology. I believe it to be rea . sonable ; I know it to be parliamentary. If any excuse
is necessary for bringing it so late in the session, it is due from others, to whose situations, had they thought it expedient, it more naturally fell to take the lead. For my insufficiency to treat it as it deserves, to state this subject with that arrangement of matter, and that propriety of argument and inference, which would best justify the undertaking, I require more apology than words can express. For the patience of the house under these inabilities I shall want more than their candour, I shall want their favour, their indulgence, I might almost say, their prejudice. At the first step, and to remove at least any unfavourable impressions that may be conceived of me, I shall beg leave to state to, the house the motives and principles upon which I act. At the opening of the session, I heard with satisfaction, and with gratitude, the attention of parliament directed from the throne to this great object. As the session advanced, I came every day to the house with expectation of seeing some data established, some premises laid for framing a great extensive political arrangement for India, coinciding and harmonizing, as far as might be, with the principles and spirit of this
constitution ; dispensing the blessings of well regulated government in those remote regions, and wealth and prosperity in Great Britain. I never conceived it possible, that parliament could be called upon by any men whatever, to apply a remedy, without any information of the disease; to pass an act upon divination ; to give upon trust a vote of justice and regulation to the India directors, as we give a vote of credit to the crown, leaving them the judges of the exigency and the application. It would be disorderly to enter now into a discussion, or to give a prejudgment upon the bill, which is to be presented in the course of this day ; but I will say, that any bill calculated upon the present narrow and rotten system of India government, must be probably a destructive measure, and at best a mere temporary expedient : à poor, paltry, wretched palliative.
“ It will but skin and film the ulcerous part,
While foul corruption, mining all beneath,
Infects unseen.” Therefore, sir, when I heard notice given of bringing in this bill, and nothing else proposed, I considered the proceedings with astonishment ; I listened to the comments that were made upon it in public, and applied to all quarters of the house, with indignation. Sir, I do not believe those comments were well founded; but I am ready to confess, that I think a dread of labour, a passive submission to difficulties, a spiritless acquiescence under evils that we all know, and that we all feel, are too much the characteristics and the reproach of the times. Supineness upon this occasion will confirm those disgrace ful sentiments in the opinion of Europe. We shall not only be degraded as politicians, but as men.
I do not assume more feeling than others ; but in considering the numberless circumstances, too apparent I fear to the house, that disqualify me from stepping forward, I feel one qualification to encourage me : I stand separate and clear from every concern and interest in person and property that could be supposed to warp the mind from the pursuit of this great object. I think it incumbent upon me, in this stage of the business, to explain myself to the house, upon this point, in the clearest and most strenuous terms; and I pledge my veracity, my duty to the house, my fidelity to my country, every claim of honest fame, every sentiment that in every man's mind can constitute his idea of the term honour, that I act in this motion unconnected with any man whatever ; unconcerned in every interest, regardless of every pur. pose that may arise from it, other than a fair, a free, a direct, an impartial, a temperate, but an effectual enquiry: to present to parliament a comprehensive view of the existence and extent of the evils under India government ; and thereby to enable them in their deliberate wisdom to apply an effectual remedy. I have dwelt upon this subject, not only for my own sake, but for VOL. II.