« ПретходнаНастави »
a large majority over all the other candi dates. Nothing contributes more to the fuccefs of any scheme, than a general idea that it will be fuccefsful. This was the cafe on the prefent occafion. Many who at first treated the report of Mr. Wilkes's ftanding as a candidate for the city of London with the utmost ridicule, now believing, from the confident affertion of his friends, that he would be inevitably chofen, very seriously determined to join the general voice, and prepared to fupport him with their fuffrages. The whole metropolis echoed with his eulogium, and on the morning of election the number of hands in his favour at the common hall was amazingly fuperior to the fhew for his competitors.
The ministry all this time appeared in a ftate of abfolent ftupefaction, they were afhamed to pardon, and afraid to punifh him. In order to difcover whether he was powerfully fupported, they fuffered him to acquire a powerful fupport; and through an abfurd imagination that he was formidable, they fuffered him to become fo in reality; whereas, had they either pardoned him on the one hand, or on the other vigorously executed the law, the people either would have deserted his caufe, or they would not have ventured to defend it. But when administration feemed terrified, it was natural for its enemies to be refolute; the more timidity therefore which was manifested by the firft, the more fpirit difplayed itself in the proceedings of the latter.
Yet notwithstanding the popular clamour was thus artfully raifed, and kept up against the ministry, Mr. Wilkes, on cafting up the poll for the city of Lon don, was in number fome hundreds lower than the lowest of the other candidates. The thinking part of the livery, though they imagined the duke of G. had not behaved altogether kindly to Mr. Wilkes, yet faw no reason why his grace's ingra. titude gave Mr. Wilkes a claim to their fuffrages. They did not deny, but that the laws of the land had been violated in the perfon of Mr. Wilkes, but they were convinced fuch a violation had not been made by the prefent adminiftration. When the livery faw all this, and imagined that Mr. Wilkes did not intend fo much to ferve the city of London as to harrafs government, they elected four members, whom they looked upon as much more
eligible reprefentatives, and gave administration a triumph of the most splendid nature even in the metropolis of the kingdom.
After Mr. Wilkes's difappointment in the city, the nation very reasonably expected that the miniftry would have recovered from their panic, and testified fome little thare of refolution. Nay, the very friends of that gentleman expected he would have been taken up in confequence of his outlawry, and punished with the utmott severity. Government however was till difmayed, undetermined, and wavering. Without a man either of genius to direct, or of spirit to animate their councils, they fuffered eve ry infult which the fury of a populace, taught to believe the freedom of their country in the most immediate danger, could offer, and by an infamous pufilla nimity of conduct, merited all the oblo quy with which they were inceffantly loaded by the voice of popularity. Mr. Wilkes had too much fenfe not to fee, and too much courage not to profit by their fhameful confternation. He therefore, without giving them time to deliberate, offered himself a candidate for the county of Middlefex, at the very hour in which he was rejected by the city of London, and in a speech admirably adapted to his purpose, afcribed his defect not to any dillike which was entertained against him by the livery, but to the lateness of his application for their fuffrages. Mr. Wilkes's conduct on this occafion gave new life to his drooping adherents, and they now thought it of confequence to renew their profeffions of attachment for a man whom they had meanly abandoned to the complicated distress of a judicial fentence, and a desperate fortune. The friends of America too, who looked upon the prefent crifis as a favourable oppor tunity for their caufe, and were indiffer ent by what means the ministry were hun ted out of office, fo that they were actu ally difcarded, tupported Mr. Wilkes with the utmolt cordiality; they reprefented him in the most flattering colours to the view of the populace, mentioned him as a man folely perfecuted for his exalted attachment to his country, and painted the trembling administration, as a junto of tyrants, who wanted to deftroy the conItitution of the kingdom, though it required but little penetration to fee that
they were a cluster of spiritless disgraces apon government, that evidently wanted foul to fupport the maintenance even of legal authority. Reflection however is feldom the diftinguishing characteristic of the multitude; the people were therefore fired to an actual pitch of phrenzy; they every where declared a readiness to die for the support of their rights, though thefe rights had been in no fingle inftance violated by their prefent rulers; and they Usiverially prepared to refift the defpotifm of a ministry, who fo far from withing to encroach upon the freedom of the public, were really unable to exact a necellary obedience to the laws. Thus fitu ated, defied by Mr. Wilkes's friends, and delpiled by his enemies, all their efforts to prevent that gentleman's election for Middlefex proved abortive, and he was cholen with a degree of acclamation, that poffibly never appeared at any period in any country.
The various measures relative to Mr. Wilkes's repeated expulfions and elections are too well known, and too recent in the memory of the public, to need a repetition. Suffice it, therefore, that the adminiftration, by pursuing their plan of hunting the popular prifoner with unceafing vehemence, hourly added to his weight, and by a determined refolution of punishing this formid ble enemy, conftantly injured themselves.
That this was undeniably the cafe, appeared immediately after their influence in favour of Colonel Luttrell, had fecu. red that gentleman's election for the coun ty of Middlefex: he was no fooner feated than they imagined their triumph over oppofition quite compleat; they now conceived that party had received a mortal wound, and trwinpetted forth the greatnefs of their victory in ftrains of the loudeft exultation. Unhappily, however, for the friends of government, their exultation was bot of very thort continuance: what was on y Mr. Wilkes's caufe before, Dotw thitand ng the number of his fupporters, and their efforts to reprefent his caule a public one on every former occafion, now became confidered as national, in reality. The majority of Middlefex freeholders being denied the man of their choice, an inftant alam ran through all the corporations of the kingdom; what happened in one place, people argued might speedily happen in all; a local in
fringement on the conftitution might be quickly rendered univerfal; the fame defpotifm, which had violated the rights of the fubject in the inftance under confideration, would violate their rights in a thousand, and therefore it became indifpenfably neceffary to relift the filt attack: the privilege of election once loft, all must be loft, English liberty would be nothing more than a name, and with the appearance of the moft exalted independence we fhould actually be trod into the moft miferable flaves in the universe.
Such were the precepts every where eagerly inculcated, and every where greedily imbibed, of the adminiftration; it was in vain urged by the friends of government, that the Houfe of Commons had long been allowed a power of expelling their own members, and that unless the perfon expelled was to be excluded, the power of expulfion was wholly ufelefs, and tended rather to expose the Houfe of Commons to contempt, than to increase its dignity, or importance. It was obferved, that the right claimed by the freeholders of Middlefex was no other than the right of doing wrong, that is, of fending a member to parliament who was certainly ineligible in the eye of reafon, however he might be deemed returnable in the judgment of the law. The friends of adminiftration moreover observed, that if the Commons were obliged by the conftitution to receive all perfons elected by a majority of freeholders who were qualified by law, that the freeholders were in confcience obliged to choose none but fuch as were abfolutely qualified in reafon: they allowed, indeed, that the conftitution had given them a liberty of entrusting the national welfare, wherever they thought fit; but then it was upon a fuppofition that they would never intruft it into improper hands. Had it been forefeen that a palpably injudicious ufe would be made of this privilege, the privilege would have hitherto been utterly unknown to the people; it was given them to ferve the kingdom, not to injure it. "Our ancestors, faid the adminiftration, by no means designed that infidels fhould be the defenders of religion, beggars the guardians of property, nor convicts the framers of our laws."
Thefe arguments, however, though they had weight with many, were neverthelefs confidered by the majority of the
people, as fo many artful gildings to the pill of oppreffion, and fo far from conciliating the minds of men to the measures of government, they only ferved to inflame them beyond the poffibility of conception. The principal people in oppofition exerted themselves in their various counties to increase the popular prejudices. They vehemently declared, that the principles of our freedom were wholly fubverted; they fummoned the inferior freeholders, wherever they had influence, to petition against the proceedings of adminiftration; and prayed upon the whole for a diffolution of the parliament; declaring, that no good could be expected from a fet of men fo ignorant of, or fo perfidious to, the liberties of English.
The petitioners, notwithstanding they would appear influenced wholly by motives of public good, and notwithstanding they would feem to act fpontaneously from their own immediate fenfe of wrongs, nevertheless, manifefted more averfion to the ministry, than regard for the welfare of the state, and in most places were applied to by the principal perfons of the oppofition, before they could be prevailed upon to express a difapprobation of the government.
The body of the people however meant well, and deferved much more the pity, than the indignation of the confiderate: it was certainly an odd method of fhewing their love of order, to violate every principle of law; and a ftrange way of expreffing their deteftation of an arbitrary minifter, to tyrannize over their unhappy countrymen; but they were worked up by a thousand different artifices to a ftate of downright phrenzy, and their madness, tho' it could not excufe, was at leaft fufficient to extenuate their extravagancies.
[To be continued occafionally.]
A fair Trial of the important Question, or the Rights of Election afferted again the Doctrine and Incapacity by Expulfion or by Refolution; upon true Conftitutional Principles, the real Law of Parliament, the common Right of the Subject, and the Determination of the Houfe of Commons, &c.
termination of the house of commons, as might induce one to conclude, that the fubject was exhausted, yet whoever will take the pains to read this pamphlet, will find many things new, many things interefting, and the whole argument stated and examined throughout, with a nicety and fkill fuperior to the productions of the ordinary clafs of writers, and which difcover fo perfect a knowledge of the laws and conftitution of this country, as does honour to the great name to whom this masterly piece is afcribed.
Take as a fpecimen, what the author has faid of the doctrine of incapacity by expulfion, or by resolution. First, says he, in the penal incapacity, by implication arifing from expulfion, there is the Specific danger, that it must, from the very nature of the thing, be liable to be made an occafional engine of tyranny to proscribe particular members of parliament and garble a house of commons. This danger cannot exist, if the law of the land is the certain and steady rule of incapacity, unless with fuch a house of commons, as can venture to fet the law at defiance, and laugh at the constitution itfelf. But fo long as expulfions themselves are arbitrary, the incapacity implied in them, must be so too. And nothing is more arbitrary than expulfion, because there is no law or rule defining or limiting the caufes of it. Such an incapacity can never be the inftrument of equal and indifferent juftice, and therefore must be an evil of a moft pernicious tendency, most repugnant to the fpirit of a free government, and adverfe to the genius of this conftitution. It is the glory of it, that men know the law by which they are to be judged; that by the law only the guilty are punifhed, as well as the innocent protected; and that in every fituation juftice is administered by the golden and ftrait white wand, as lord Coke calls it, and does not bend to the uncertain and crooked cord of discretion.
This implied incapacity is abfolutely a pramunire, without ftatute and without judgment, which puts every member of parliament out of the protection of the law for the nobleft privilege, and dePrives the electors of England of their highest franchise; for thefe are made to depend upon the mere pleasure of a majority of the houfe, which may be governed by their caprice, their malice, party
zeal, oppofition of opinion and objects; add to thefe a defign fometimes to fubvert the conftitution. It is the brilliancy of civil policy, and the luftre of a well-tempered conftitution, that there is a wife mixture of mutual checks to prevent those evils, to which the fubjects are expofed, where every thing is refolved into the mere will of governors. In England the judge checks the jury, the jury controuls the judge, and the law rules both. In that judicature by which expulfion is in flicted, there is no check at all, if incapacity is annexed to it. If expulfion is left without incapacity, the power of reelection is a check, because an excefs in the judicature would prove fruitless, if it was foolish or wicked; and the member who did not deserve to be expelled, would return in triumph over partiality and precipitance. **But to cut the matter fhort, if this law of parliament incapacity, as it is called, be fo very reasonable and falutary, why grudge an act of parliament upon it to remove doubts, and to let every man know what he is liable to? It will not be acquiefced under, while it is nothing but the dictum of doctors and profeffors; the ravings of journalists and precedent men, the mandate, of a minifter, the progeny of an ordinance, or the brood of a refolution.
But fecondly, The other incapacity by refolution, which, though not penal, is as privative as the former in the way that fome gentlemen conftrue it; and is alfo dangerous in the highest degree, both in refpect of the extent to which, according to the doctrine upon which it is built, it may go, and in respect of the power by which it is The advocates
for the refolution have not been pleafed to mark out any limits to this extraordinary power of difqualifying, or declaring ineligible, as they term it, by refolutions, nor indeed can I fee how any limits can confift with their doctrine, of an abfolute and uncontroulable power in the house of commons, to make fuch difqualifying refolutions. If fuch an abfolute power of refolving incapacities is established, the old ordonance of the lords, for excluding lawyers, may again come into the writs for the fake of fome lawyer, who does not always chufe to be the tool of a court, or the flave of a minifter, or his minion, with an exception only of law. yers in the king's fervice. If there is a
troublesome alderman of London, whose fituation and difpofition render it impoffible to take him off,-Refolve, that no magiftrate of the metropolis is eligible; and if pretence were neceffary, give for a reason, that he is to attend the functions of his office. Does the commercial world furnish turdy patriots, why not refolve that merchants cannot be chofen, who have an intereft always to oppose the laying on of duties? Is it inconvenient to hear the din of the colonies, refolve that no man born in America can fit in the houfe. Because the interefts of England and Ireland fometimes jar, exclude all who have eftates in Ireland, or are members of either house of parliament there. If a phyfician fhould be chofen illuftrious enough to be profcribed, as Dr. Lucas was in Ireland, where he is now the patriot reprefentative of the capital, nothing more is neceffary than a refolution that the medical faculty are incapable of being elected.
In fhort, if this refolution law be the law of parliament, there is not, fo far as I can fee, one clafs of men, one order or profeffion, who are for an inftant, protected by the law of the land, or the conftitution, against a refolution, rendering them ineligible, if fome unlucky man belonging to them, shall ever happen to be of importance enough to call forth this feather'd arrow to get rid of him.
Parliamentary Proceedings in Regard to
Friday the 15th of May, 1767, Mr. Fuller having reported from the committee of the whole House, to whom it was referred, to confider of the feveral papers which had been presented to the Houfe in that feffion of parliament, relating to the North American colonies
several refolutions, importing, That it appeared to the committee, that the House of Reprefentatives of his Majefty's province of New-York, have, in direct difobedience of the authority of the legiflature of Great Britain, refused to make provifion for fupplying with neceffaries his Majesty's troops, in fuch manner as is required by an act of parliament, made in the 5th year of his Majefty's reign, intituled, An act to amend
Alfo that it appeared to the committee, that an act of Allembly hath been paffed in faid province, for furnishing the bar racks in the cities of New-York and Albany, with fire-wood and candles, and other neceffaries therein mentioned, for his Majefty's forces, inconfiftent with the provifions, and in oppofition to the directions of the faid act of parliament.
Alfo, that it is the opinion of the committee, that until provifion fhall have been made by the faid Alfembly, for furwishing the King's troops, with all the neceffaries required by the faid act of parliament, the governor, council, and affembly, be refpectively reftrained and prohibited from paffing or affenting to any act of Affembly, for any other purpofe whatever ;-and in confequence of thefe refolutions, a motion being made, that a bill be brought in upon the last of the faid refolutions, Governor Pownall Spoke as follows:
Having borne fo great a fhare in the fervice in North America, I hope it will not be thought improper, that I take fome fhare in the prefent debate. When matters are brought under confideration, the facts and circumftances of which can. not be supposed to be fully known to this House, it becomes the duty of those whofe fervice and itation has rendered them duly cognizant of fuch circumstances and facts, to bear their teftimony of the ftate of things, and to give their op nion of the ftate of the bufinefs alfo.However clear and diftin&ly thefe matters may lie in my own mind, in the strongest form of conviction, yet, being unaccustomed to fpeak in public, I am afraid I fhall be unable fo to difpofe and explain them, as to exhibit that fame diftinctness, and to convey that fame conviction to others. This being the first time I have prefumed to fpeak in this Houfe, I feel that kind of awe in the prefence of it, which every one must feel, who compares the little importance of his own sentiments, with the experience, the knowledge, and the wifdom of fo great an aflembly;-fo
that, inftead of finding myself master of my own fentiments and opinion, I feel as if I had arifen only to experience my own infufficiency. But the indulgence of the Houfe gives me encouragement, that they are willing to hear and receive what I ca fay on this fubject. And indeed, it is not only from the fituation in general in which I ftood, and the relation which I have borne to the bufinefs of America, which feems to render it proper that I fhould not give a filent vote upon this occafion-but the particular manner in which I have been concerned in this particular bufinefs, does fpecially call upon me to give my opinion on the matter now under debate.
As the prefent meafure, now under confideration, is the propofal of a bill for enforcing an act of parliament, directing and regulating the quartering his Majefty's troops in North America, this matter will be best explained, by a plain narrative of the rife of that act, and by comparing it with the circumstances and nature of the fervice, which it was meant to provide for; and also by comparing it with that province law, which it took (tho' mistaken) for its model, on this occafion.
It may be remembered, that the Commander in Chief of the King's forces in North America, applied to government to furnish him with fufficient powers, whereby he might quarter the King's troops; and ideas of the neceffity of quartering in private houfes were fuggefted by fome. A bill was formed on thefe ideas, and brought into this Houfe.
A measure so exceptionable and so alarming, muft neceffarily meet with oppofition in this Houfe.-There was an oppofition made to it.-This oppofition gave occafion to the minifter of that day to recollect himself.
I had heard accidentally of the ftate of this bufinefs, and thinking (as I did) the measure dangerous, and knowing that it was not neceffary, I took the liberty to give this my opinion of it to that minifter, and fuggefted a measure by which this bufinefs might have been done, and by which every thing, fo contrary and difcordant to the conftitution, might be avoided. I acquainted him, that there had passed, in the province of the Massachufet's-bay, whilft I was governor there, An Act for providing quarters for the