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- I must therefore address you, my friends, in the words of .Horace,
Pol me occidistis amid,
Or nearly in the words of Pope,
Asleep, a patriot of distinguilhed note;
Thus, Sir, have I endeavoured to fathom the honourable gentleman's three reasons for bringing t>n his motion at this time. They may indeed go deeper, but I confess my line will reach no farther. The honourable gentleman may, if he pleases, distinguish them into good, better, beji, but I am obliged, maigremoi, to view them in a different light, and therefore must change the honourable gentleman's bonus, melior, optimus, into tnalus, pejor; pejsimus.
But, Sir, though I profess my dislike of this motion as being ill timed, I must again declare, that I heartily approve of the thing moved for, and hope, at some proper opportunity, to have the honour of laying before this House some new hints on the subject, which I have lately received from a very sensible gentleman, who is one of my constituents. But, at present, I (hall not mention them; neither shall I say any thing, however not much, concerning certain rotten boroughs, out of which so many half-starved rats have crept, as at times had well nigh undermined the foundation of this House.
We may, if we please, call ourselves the representative body of the people; but as I had the honour of observing to you, Sir, upon a former occasion, this House exhibits much such a representation of the people, as you yourself do of this House, when you are starving in St. Margaret's church on the 30th of January, and some of your attendants; perhaps, counting the moments of the preacher's sermon. But, Sir, there Is an old
Q.3 adaSe> adage, that friends in distress make sorrow the less, and you have, at least, the comfort of knowing that a still more distinguished personage than yourself, the great aud learned representative of the House of Peers, is at the fame moment sn? dergoing the fame annual frigid discipline not 100 miles distant from you. ,
I beg pardon, Sir, for this digression; however, I am perfectly orderly; for I am speaking of unequal representation; but the subject being too delicate to dwell upon, I shall immediately go back to my point.
Sir, it is notorious that some worthy members of this House have no constituents, perhaps only one constituent, and perhaps themselves both the constituent and the constituee. Hence those offensive expressions to the ear of independence, "Lord Suchan-ose's borough, Mr. Such-an-one's borough." Well, then, might the ingenious member for Kirkwall, alias the hopeful member for Westminster, (for I presume he is full of hopes of success), find out that the voice of the people both is, and is iK>t, to be heard in this House. Here, Sir, what is wrong, and, what is wanted, must appear to every man; but how to rectify the wrong, and supply the want, has puzzled, and will puzzle, much wiser heads than the honourable gentleman's and mine.
Those gentlemen, indeed, who. make no scruple of voting away rights and charters, may think there is an easy method of getting rid of as many rotten boroughs as they please; but as some such gentlemen represent some such boroughs, I am inclined to think, that when it comes to themselves, they will alter their sentiments, and perceive a flagrant injustice in their own cafe, which had no existence where the confiscation of the property of a great respectable company was to be the effect of their aye or no.
Men of wit may ridicule the idea of Parliamentary Reform, by saying, that a tinker had rather mend a kettle than the Conslitution, and a labourer rather make a faggot than make laws; &c And where is the thing, however excellent, which has -not been ridiculed? But as to arguments, I must hear better than any I have vet heard, to convince me that a Parliamentary Reform is not much wanted, and much to be wished.
As to the stale cry of innovation/ innovation/ it is so very absurd, that it is fit only for the lips of bis Holiness, or old Mother Goose. If this plea were to be.admitted, good night to every thing but to ignorance and barbarism. According to this plea, no one thing that is wrong ought ever to be amended. Nay, the longer abuse and error have existed, the longer they ought to exist; and the state or nation, which has groaned for centuries under any. particular grievance, ought to bear the hurden of that grievance as long as the world stands. Even injustice may be sanctified by time, and oppression by being •oppressed.
If this doctrine had always been adhered to, where would have been many of our civil liberties at this day, when we withstood not the imaginary, but the real arbitrary ideas of prerogative, which some contended for as the very basis of the <ifonstitution, and which would have made the Englisli diadem as absolute as that of France? Above all, where would have been that religion, which came down to us streaming in the blood of Protestants, Martyrs, and Confeflbrs t That religion, which, however despised and ridiculed it may be in this degenerate day of profligacy and dissipation, instead of being ashamed of, we ought to glory in, and to make the rule of all our conduct, both in public and private life.
Overwhelmed by arbitrary power, and funk into the dregs of Popish superstition, we Ihould now have had nothing to console ourselves with but the reflection of having steered clear of every attempt towards any reformation either in Church or State, for fear of the danger of innovation.
According to this doctrine, the man who has an unhealthy state of body ought never to be cured; or, if he fend for tho physician, the wife doctor shall shake his head and fay, "To
be sure, Sir, you are but in a bad way, but I shall not attempt to administer any relief to you. You have been sick so long, that sick by all means you ought to continue."
Now, Sir, I suppose nobody will affirm that there are no diseases in the body politic, as well as in the body natural; and I suppose that nobody will deny that the great body politic of this kingdom has been for several years past, (indeed ev;r since the Administration of one, whose name can never be mentioned but with veneration in this House, I need not say I mean the great Earl of Chatham,) in an atrophy, and during the time that the noble Lord in the blue ribband held the reins, in a galloping consumption. We have tried bleeding long enough, and bleeding with leeches too; I have no objection to try the alterative in question, when the body is in a fit state to receive it: but I am sure, for the reasons already given, that at present it is not; and nobody but an empiric or quack who is totally unskilled in the knowledge of political chemicals and galenicals, will fay that it is.
If I have talked too long in the medical stile, I humbly hope the House will pardon me, and I am sure I shall meet with the indulgence of a learned Lord, I mean the Lord Rector of Glasgow; though,-alas!- all his prescriptions the other night had no other effect than to procure the easy dismission of his patient without a struggle, or without a groan. Atid I am sure it was to the general satisfaction of this assembly, that the poor creature went off so easily and so peaceably. He knew it would be contrary to order for him now to say any thing of that learned Lord's speech; but as the learned Lord was pleased to assert, that when a right honourable Secretary brought in the India bill, he wished for neither power nor emolument to himself or friends, but that he acted from noble motives, and despised all such trifles; he would just take the liberty of observing, en pajfant, that there was an old fable they were all well acquainted with, which fays, "That when Reynard
leapt very high at the grapes and could not reach them, he sneaked off, and said they were sour."
Now, Sir, after all I have said, on which side must I give my voice? I certainly shall not vote against a measure which I heartily wish, at a proper time, to see adopted: but as I think this is by no means such a time, I shall do, Sir, what you would be very glad to join me in, (but, alas! dignity of office debars you of the privilege), I shall leave the honourable combatants to fight it out among themselves, and shall go home and try to get a good night's rest.
You, Sir, have had the repeated pleasure and benefit os hearing every speech which has been delivered on the subject for some years past, and therefore must have made up your mind on the point. But whether you are for a reform in the representation or duration of Parliament, or whether with the noble spouse of the late right honourable Secretary, you think both had better be deferred adCalendas Grccas, I will answer for you, Sir, that you think a reform in the duration of our debates, and I will fay in the duration of our motions too, would be highly praise worthy. And if to these I add a reform in our tempers whilst debating, I believe I should be joined by the whole House ncm. con.
A?, therefore, I began with one saying of the wise man, I shall end with another,; which is, An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression. But a soft answer turntth away wrath.
Sir Richard Hill, June 17, 1784.
A noble Lord (Lord North), formerly the Minister of this kingdom, has endeavoured to convince the right honourable Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he is bound no longer, by his engagements to the public, to support a Parliamentary Reform; which, therefore, the ncble Lord advises him to relinquish. Sir, the friends of the right honourable Chancellor are under no apprehension that he will take his Lordship's advice,