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for it. The King may possibly be advised to dissolve the present parliament a year or two before it expires of course, and precipitate an new election, in hopes of taking the nation by surprize. If such a measure be in agitation, this very caution may defeat or prevent it.
I cannot doubt that you will unanimously assert the freedom of election, and vindicate your exclusive right to choose your representatives. But other questions have been stated, on which your determination should be equally clear and unanimous. Let it be imprefsed upon your minds, let it be instilled into your children, that the liberty of the press is the Palladium of all the civil, political, and religious rights of an Englishman, and that the right of juries to return a general verdict, in all cases whatsoever, is an essential part of our
constitution, not to be controuled or limited by the judges, nor in any shape questionable by the legislature. The power of King, Lords, and Commons is not an arbitrary power. They are the
disaffecteds dangers, which the house of the year
* This possitive denial, of an arbitrary power being vested in the legislature, is not in fact a new doctrine. When the Earl of Lindsey, in the year 1675, brought a bill into the house of lords, To prevent the dangers, which might arise from persons disaffected to government, by which an oath and penalty was to be imposed upon the members of both houses, it was affirmed, in a proteft signed by twenty-four lay-peers, (my lords the bishops were noi accustomed to protest) “ That the privilege of “ sitting in parliament was an honour they had by “ birth, and a right fo inherent in them, and inse“ parable from them, that nothing could take it a66 way, but what, by the law of the land, must "withal take away their lives, and corrupt their “ blood.”—These noble peers, (whose names are a reproach to their posterity) have, in this instance, solemnly denied the power of parliament to alter the constitution. Under a particular propofition, " they have asserted a general truth, in which every man in England is concerned.
trustees, not the owners of the estate. The fee-simple is in US. They cannot alienate, they cannot waste. When we say that the legislature is supreme, we mean that it is the highest power known to the constitution ;--that it is the highest in comparison with the other subordinate powers established by the laws. In this fenfe, the word Supreme is relative, not absolute. The power of the legislature is limited, not only by the general rules of natural justice, and the welfare of the community, but by the forms and principles of our particular constitution. If this doctrine be not true, we must admit, that Kings, Lords, and Commons have no rule to direct their resolutions, but merely their own will and pleasure, They might unite the legislative and executive power in the same hands, and diffolve the constitution by an act of parliament. But I am
persuaded YOU'will not leave it to the choice of seven hundred perfons, notoriously corrupted by the crown, whether seven millions of their equals shall be freemen or flaves. The certainty of forfeiting their own rights, when they facrifice those of the nation, is no check to a brutal, degenerate mind. Without insisting upon the extravagant concesion made to Harry the VIII. there are instances, in the history of other countries, of a formal, deliberate surrender of the public liberty into the hands of the sovereign. If England does not share the fame fate, it is because we have better resources, than in the virtue of either house of parliament.
I said that the liberty of the Press is the palladium of all your rights, and that the right of the juries to return a general verdict is part of your constitution. To preserve the whole system, You must
correct correct your legislature. With regard to any influence of the constitution over the conduct of the representative, there is little difference between a seat in parliament for seven years and a seat for life. The prospect of your resentment is too remote ; and although the last feffion of a septennial parliament be usually employed in courting the favour of the people, consider that, at this rate, your representatives have six years for offence, and but one for atonement. A deathbed repentance seldom reaches to restitution. If you reflect that the changes of administration, which have marked and disgraced the present reign, although your warmeft patriots have in their turn been invested with the lawful and un- . lawful authority of the crown, and tho' other reliefs or improvements have been held forth to the people, yet that no one man in office has ever promoted or en