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But I grant, this may not always be our happiness, either in possession or in prospect: and therefore if this allegation could be proved, I should be moved another way than I am at present: there will be more time, I acknowledge, in any one particular parliament, for attempts to be made that way. But, as I think, not at all more likely to succeed. On the contrary, there is more likelihood, that gentlemen should by degrees become even ready to part with a constitution, for which there must be such contention by bribery, and all the arts of iniquity, every three years, than if it we were otherwise. And then again, supposing a parliament chosen for three years only; a prince resolutely bent upon doing it in a parliamentary way, prepared with treasures and favours, might make such attempts, before that term be expired, that none could resist, who would not as certainly go on further in their integrity. One may venture to affirm that & parliament which keeps its integrity for three years, will discourage the making any such attempts for the remaining four, And, to give an instance, if I remember right, the parliament which gave up the liberties of Sweden gave that fatal stroke within the term of three

years.

Whenever a court can be bad enough for such a design, they will first take care at the time of election to set up persons capable of the same bad design. And then there is no difference between three or seven years. Only, here remember, what I have before observed to you, that the quick returns of triennial elections tend much more to that corruption, bribery, and dissoluteness of manners, as well as party-revenge, which pave the way to the loss of liberty, than the longer term, now proposed, can do. One might appeal to any who know the world, whether it be not more probable (as I have urged already) that the elected gentlemen themselves, impoverished by so frequent returns of their great charges, will be inclined to listen to the offer made them, with so pernicious a view, than if the returns were not so frequent; and besides this, whether the influence that way from the powerful motive of party-revenge, will not have vastly more weight, when it is roused, and irritated, and set on fire by so quick returns of contention, than if it were otherwise. And what is of great moment, in my opinion, since it is plain that every

instance of wickedness, and division, tending to destruction, is so heightened and inflamed by the quick returns of elections ;

VOL. V.

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there must be much greater encouragement to a foreign enemy, to interpose with his money, to purchase our ruin in a triennial choice, than in a septennial. Especially now before we are well settled upon that bottom which is the only foundation of our happiness. It is well known how far the neighbouring powers intermeddle in the elections of Poland and Germany, and with how much success they send their agents and factors to them; and what an abuse of liberty this corruption has introduced in those countries, all the world can testify; nor can we think the election of a British parliament so very indifferent a thing to some neighbouring powers, especially at certain junctures, that they should think one or two hundred thousand pounds misapplied, in purchasing votes to their mind.

And I can say, that this is no whimsical supposition, because I have myself seen an intercepted letter, written from hence into France, just before the last election, by a friend to the Pretender, who had taken the oaths to King George, plainly hinting both that such a thing was then expected from the king of France, and that he did not doubt the success of it. I think this alone is enough to alarm any true lover of his country, in the present situation of our affairs, and of those of all Europe.

There is one more objection, I hear, is often urged, that we should have severely blamed such a design in the late administration; nay, that great horror was expressed, at the very supposition of the thing at that time: I grant this, and that the horror was just and reasonable. But upon what was this founded ? Not upon the unlawfulness of the thing itself; not upon the impossibility of its ever being fit to be done; but upon a too well-grounded assurance, that they who were then in power must have meant it, whenever they did it, for the same end to which their other acts tended, and that was the utter ruin of the grand alliance, and of all the hopes of our best friends abroad, and the inspiring full vigour into the cause of France and the Pretender. This was the ground of all just dread upon that head. Had it been so, that they had designed it manifestly for the firmer security of the Protestant succession here, and the greater support of the grand alliance abroad, no true Briton could have had ground of complaint, but must have acknowledged, if it tended and was necessary to so good ends, that it was not

only lawful, but highly praise-worthy. An instance parallel to it may quite take off the edge of this objection. What honest mind would not have been filled with uneasiness and terror, supposing they had then attempted to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, by which they might have confined all men of great capacity and influence, whom they knew to be averse to their proceedings, in favour of France ? But would this have been any argument, why the friends of King George should not have secured him and the nation by such a suspension, when made necessary by the treasonable practices of his avowed enemies ? Or because we blame thing lawful in itself, when we see it designed for our ruin, therefore, must we be averse to a lawful thing, designed and tending to our preservation ? This is the whole strength of that objection, which yet, I believe, weighs with many, for want of considering it.

As for the late ministers, I verily believe they designed no such thing. And my reason for believing so is, that they did not at all want it; nay, that it would have done them more hurt than good. Their designs were such as were to be managed solely by artifice. The great engines they made use of for keeping up a spirit against all truth and right, were those very mobs, riots, and tumults, which alone could keep a multitude in such a ferment, as to make them admire, and press for their own ruin. They thought it their interest to govern by the passions of the crowd, and were very peculiarly dexterous in the management of them. They were possessed of the full cry and noise of the nation, and likely in all probability so to continue: this was a much surer hold to them, and to their designs, than the continuance of one and the same parliament: and therefore, they never attempted it. But certainly, as that same spirit which was then raised for the service of the Pretender, made it unnecessary for them; so, it being still alive, and full of evil influences upon our happiness, this makes it highly prudent in others, to do that in order to suppress and extirpate it, which they, in their wisdom, would not do, for fear of quieting what they expected benefit from. Their security consisted in keeping up that vile spirit to the height. It is the security of the king and his government to have a stop put to it, and to remove every opportunity that may give fuel and encouragement to it, as

far as is consistent with the constitution and liberties of the nation.

All these considerations put together have, I confess, wholly taken off my first surprise; and the same considerations make me hope, that all true friends to the king, and to the public happiness, (which now depends entirely upon the firm establishment of the present Royal Family,) will not let their general suspicion, or their particular bias, have such power over them, as to move them to join with their own enemies, in a point, in which, if they should, by any unforeseen accident, have success, I am confident, they would very heartily, as well as fruitlessly, repent of their own proceedings. When persons who have always shown themselves enemies to liberty, and professors of the principles of slavery; who have ever expressed a hatred of the revolution, and of everything built upon it; and have ever been the supports of the Popish and Jacobite interest in these nations : when such, I say, put on a zeal for liberty, it is a moral demonstration that it is all a mock show; and that they themselves think quite otherwise of what they oppose, than they would seem to think. If it were really their opinion, that the alteration now proposed, would either help the cause which they have espoused, or be any prejudice to a government which they hate, I am very confident, they would not enter into the opposition of it, with that warmth and heat which they now profess. But they foresee that their hopes must in proportion abate, with those heats and disturbances which alone keep them alive; and for this reason it is, that they now take into their mouths the words and topics which they have ever hitherto ridiculed and exploded in order to keep off the thing which they heartily hate, the settlement of the present government in peace and quiet at home, and in honour and glory abroad.

And this is one very good reason why all who truly wish well to that settlement, should unite in the alteration of that which is the chief, if not the only, thing left to keep up the spirits and designs of its enemies. But if, when it is in our power to put some stop to our present corruptions and distractions, and to establish the glory of our king and the happiness of our country, in a method perfectly consistent with all our rights and liberties, we are guided by the insinuations of those who hate us, and refuse to do it, we must

thank ourselves for all that follows. It will lie at our door to answer for all the consequences of such a neglect. From those, with whom we join in it, we have no returns, but contempt, reproaches, and insults.

In fine, I can consider the triennial return of our elections no otherwise than as what hath made us, and still continues us, the most divided and most corrupted of nations ; what was at first by many contrived, and still in its own nature tends, to oppose the designs of the best kings, and to promote those of the worst; leading to an universal debauchery of the manners and tempers of the electors, as well as to make the elected themselves weary enough of such perpetual contests and charge, to incline sometime or other to thoughts which would not otherwise find admittance; influencing the people to think easily of becoming a prey to the highest bidder; keeping up the spirits of our common enemies, and creating diffidence and uneasiness in our best friends ; introducing and increasing all excesses of violence and mutual revenge ; serving a multitude of bad purposes, which have a peculiar malignity at this particular juncture, without having one good effect fit to be named in opposition to them; and all this occasioned by the shortness of the interval allowed, either to put an end to such evils or to cultivate anything that is good. To cure all these entirely, nothing can perhaps be thought of, but what would introduce greater. To apply something that may put an end to some of them, and abate and diminish the rest, is a matter that deserves the regard of every good Briton; and, I believe, at this time, nothing at all effectual can be thought of, without an alteration of the triennial elections.

I am, &c.

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