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the ever steady friends of liberty and their country, poured balm into my wounds. They are healed. Scarcely a fear remains: but I feel, deeply feel, the wounds given to the Constitution. They are still bleeding. This House only can heal them. They only can restore the constitution to its former state of purity, health, and vigour. May I be permitted to point out the mode of the cure, and the salutary methods I think you ought to apply? Before I proceed to the remedy, I shall beg the indulgence of the House to state the cafe, and I hope they will forgive a dry but candid narrative of facts, because I mean to argue from them. I will give them as briefly as possible, and with all the impartiality of a by-stander.
"Mr. Wilkes was first elected for the county of Middlesex on the 28th of March, 1768: he was expelled the 3d of February, 1769, and the second time chosen, without opposition, the 16th of the same month: on the day following, the election was .vacated, and he was declared by a majority of the House incapable of being elected into that Parliament. Notwithstanding this resolution of the House, he was a third time, on the 16th of March, elected without opposition; for I suppose the ridiculous attempt of a Mr. Dingley, who had not a single freeholder to propose or vote for him, can hardly be called an opposition. That election, however, was declared void the next day. On the 13th of April Mr. Wilkes was a fourth time elected, by a majority of 1143 votes, against Mr. Luttrel, who had only 296. The fame day the House voted, "That Mr. Luttrell ought to have been returned." On the 25th of April a petition was presented to the House, from the freeholders of Middlesex, by a worthy Baronet, (Sir George Saville,) who is not only an honour to this House, but to human nature; notwithstanding which the House, on the 8th of May, resolved, " That Henry Lawes Luttrell, Esq. is duly elected a Knight of the Shire to serve in this present Parliament for the county of Middlesex."
These are the leading facts. I will not trouble the clerks, Sir, to read all the resolutions to which I have alluded: they are most of them fresh in the memories of gentlemen; I onlycall for that of February, 1769, respecting incapacity as the certain consequence of expulsion.
The clerk having read the resolution, I think it fair to state to the House the whole of what I intend to move in consequence of the facts I have stated, and the resolution first read. The first motion I intend is, that the resolution of this House, of the iyth of February, 1769, "That John Wilkes, Esq. having been, in this section of Parliament, expelled this House, was, and is incapable of being elected a member to serve in this present Parliament." This I hold of necessity to restore the Constitution, which that resolution tears up by the roots. I shall then, if I succeed, if justice and a reverence for the Constitution prevail in this Parliament, proceed to the other motion, "That all the declarations, orders and resolutions, of this House, respecting the election of John Wilkes, Esq. for the county of Middlesex, as a void election, the due and legal election of Henry Lawes Luttrell, Esq. into the last Parliament, for the county of Middlesex, and the incapacity of John Wilkes, Esq. to be elected a member to serve in the said Parliament, be expunged from the journals of this House, as being subversive of the rights of the electors of this kingdom."
The words of the resolution, of the 17th of February, 1769, which I mean particularly to combat, are, "was and is incapable," and the explanation of them the fame day in the order for a new writ "in the room of John Wilkes, Esq. who is adjudged incapable of being elected a member to serve in this present Parliament." In the first formation of this government, in the original settlement of our Constitution, the people expreffly reserved to themselves a very considerable part of the legislative power, which they consented to share jointly with a King and House of Lords. From the great population of our island, this power could not be exercised personIS 4 ally, ally, and therefore the many were compelled to delegate that power to a few, who thus became their deputies and agents only, their representatives. It follows directly, from the very idea of choice, that such choice must be free and uncontrolled, admitting of no restrictions but the law of the land, to which Kings and Lords are equally subject, and what must arise from the nature of the trust. A Peer of Parliament, for instance, cannot be elected a Member of the House of Commons, because he already forms a part of another branch of the fame legislative body. A lunatic has a natural incapacity. Other instances might be mentioned, but those two are sufficient. The freedom of election is then the common right of the people, their fair and just share of power, and I hold it to be the most glorious inheritance of every subject of this realm, the noblest, and, I trust, the most solid part of that beautiful fabric, the English Constitution. Here I might lean, Sir, on the most respectable authorities which can be cited, the Supreme Judicature of the kingdom, and the venerable Judges of former ages, as well as of our own times. / met them accidentally this morning in the course of my reading, as an old friend (the Duke of Grafton) of IVilkes and Liberty, now, alas, lost to every fense of duty to his country, frequently tells another assembly, he accidentally meets all the tiresome quotations he makes. The House of Peers, in the cafe of Ashby and White in 1709, determined, "a man has a right to his freehold by the common law, and the common law having annexed his right of voting to his freehold, it is of the nature of his freehold, and must depend upon it." On the fame occasion likewise they declared, "it is absurd to say, the elector's right of chusing is founded upon the law and custom of Parliament. It is an original right, part of the constitution of this kingdom, as much as a Parliament is, and from whence the persons elected to serve in Parliament do derive their authority, and can have no other but that which is given to them by those that have the original right to chuse them." The greatest
law Jaw authorities, both ancient and modern, agree in opinion, that every subject of the realm, not disqualified by law, is eligible of common right. Lord Coke, Lord Chief Justice Hols, and Mr. Justice Blackstone, are the only authorities I shall cite. I regard not, Sir, the slavish courtly doctrines propagated by lawyers in either House of Parliament, as to the rights of the subject, no more than I do as to what they call high treason and rebellion. Such doctrines are delivered here only to be reported elsewhere. These men have their reward. But the venal tongue of a prostitute Advocate or Judge is best answered by the wise and sober pen of the same man, when in a former cool moment, unheated by party rage, or faction, after the fullest deliberation, he gave to the nation, to the present age, and to posterity, a fair and impartial detail of their undoubted rights, and when he laid down in clear and express terms the plain law of the land. Lord Coke fays, "He which is eligible of common right, cannot be disabled by the same ordinance in Parliament, unless it had been by act of Parliament." Lord Chief Justice Holt declares, "The election of Knights belongs to the freeholders, and it is an original right, vested in, and inseparable from, the freehold, and can no more be severed from their freehold, than their freehold itself can be taken away." Mr. Justice Blackstone, in the first book of his Commentaries, has the following words: "Subject to these restrictions and disqualifications, every subject of the realm is eligible of common right." This common right of the subject, Sir, was violated by the majority of the last House of Commons, and I affirm that they, aud in particular, if I am rightly informed, the noble Lord with the blue ribband committed high treason against Magna Charta. This House only, without the least interference of the other parts of the Legislature, took upon them to make the law. They adjudged me incapable of being elected a member to serve in that Parliament, although I am qualified by the law of the land; and the noble Lord declared, "if any other candidate had only six votes, he 2 would
weald seat him for Middlesex." I repeat it, Sir, this violence wa* a direct infringement of Magna Charta, high treason against the sacred charta of our liberties. The words to which I allude ought alw ays to be written in letters of gold: "No freeman can be disseized of his freehold, or liberties, or freq customs, unless by the lawful judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land." By the conduct of that majority, and of the noble Lord, they assumed to themselves the power of making the law, and at the fame moment invaded the rights of the People, the King, and the Lords. The two last tamely acquiesced in the exercise of a power, which had been in a great instance fatal to their predecessors, had put an end to their very existence; but the People, Sir, and in particular the spirited freeholders of this county, whose ruling passion is the love of liberty, have not yet forgiven the attack made on their rights. So dangerous a precedent of violence and injustice, which may in future times be cited by a despotic Minister of the Crown, ought to be expunged from the journals of this House.
I have heard and read much of precedents to justify the proceedings of the majority in the last House of Commons. I own, Sir, I value very little the doctrine of precedents. There is scarcely any new villany under the Sun. A precedent can never justify any action that is in itself wicked; a robbery, for instance, on the heaths of Hounflow or Bagshot, of which there are innumerable precedents. The basest actions may hfr> justified by precedents drawn from bad times and bad men. The sole question is, whether this power is not a direct usurpation on the rights of the People? If that is proved, I care not how long the usurpation has continued, how often been practised. It is high time to put an end to it. It was the cafe of general warrants. One precedent, however, the most insisted upon, I must take notice of, because it is said fully to come up to the point; but, in my opinion, in almost every part it proves the contrary of what it has been brought to support; I mean the remarkable case of Mr. Walpole in 1711, a periods