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It fignifies ver
holding those honours which ought to be in the disposal of the people.
little how this matter may be quibbled away. Example, the only argument of effect in civil life, demonstrates the truth of my.proposition. Nothing can alter my opinion concerning the pernicious tendency of this example, until I see some man for his indiscretion in the support of power, for his violent and intemperate servility, rendered incapable of fitting in Parliament. For as it now stands, the fault of overftraining popular qualities, and, irregularly if you please, asserting popular privileges, has led to disqualification; the opposite fault never has produced the slightest punishment, Resistance to power, has shut the door of the House of Commons to one man; obfequiousness and servility, to none.
Not that I would encourage popular disorder, or any disorder. But I would leave such offences to the law, to be punished in measure and proportion. The laws of this country are for the most part constituted, and wisely so, for the general ends of Government, rather than for the preservation of our particular liberties. Whatever Therefore is done in support of liberty, by persons not in public trust, or not acting merely in that trust, is liable to be more or less out of the ordinary course of the law; and the law itself is sufficient to animadvert upon it with great severity. Nothing indeed can hinder that severe letter from crushing us, except the temperaments it may receive from a trial by jury. But if the habit prevails of going beyond the law, and fuperleding this judicature, of carrying offences, real or supposed, into the legislative bodies, who shall establish themselves into courts of criminal equity (so the Star Chamber has been called by Lord Bacon), all the evils of the Star Chamber are revived. A large and liberal construction in ascertaining offences, and a discretionary power in punishing them, is the idea of criminal equity; which is in truth a monster in Jurisprudence. It signifies nothing whether a court for this purpose be a Committee of Council, or an House of Commons, or an House of Lords; the liberty of the subject will be equally fubverted by it. The true end and purpose of that House of Parliament which entertains such a jurisdiction will be deItroyed by it,
I will not believe, what no other man living believes, that Mr. Wilkes was punished for the indecency of his publications, or the impiety of his ransacked closet. If he had fallen in a common slaughter of libellers and blafphemers, I could well believe that nothing more was meant than was pretended. But when I see that, for years together, full as impious, and perhaps more dangerous writings to religion and virtue and order, have not been punished, nor their authors discountenanced; that the most audacious libels on Royal Majesty have passed without notice ; that the most treasonable invectives against the laws, liberties, and constitution of the country, have not met with the slightest animadversion; I must consider this as a shocking and shameless pretence.
Never did an envenomed fcurrility against every thing sacred and civil, public and private, rage through the kingdom with such a furious and unbridled licence. All this while the peace of the nation must be shaken, to ruin one libeller, and to tear from the populace a single favourite. .
Nor is it that vice merely skulks in an obscure and contemptible impunity. Does not the publick behold with indignation, persons not only generally scandalous in their lives, but the identical persons who, by their fociety, their instruction, their example, their encouragement, have drawn this man into the very faults which have furnished the Cabal with a pretence for his persecution, loaded with every kind of favour, honour, and distinction, which a Court can beftow? Add but the crime of servility (the fædum crimen fervitutis) to every other crime, and the whole mass is immediately transmuted into virtue, and becomes the just subject of reward and honour. When therefore I reflect upon this method pursued by the Cabal in distributing rewards and punishments, I must conclude that Mr. Wilkes is the object of persecution, not on account of what he has done in common with others who are the objects of reward, but for that in which be differs from many of them : that he is pursued for the spirited difpofitions which are blended with his vices; for his unconquerable firmness, for his resolute, indefatigable, ftrenuous resistance against oppression.
In this case, therefore, it was not the man that was to be punished, nor his faults that were to be
discountenanced. Opposition to acts of power was to be marked by a kind of civil proscription. The popularity which should arise from such an opposition was to be shewn unable to protect it. The qualities by which court is made to the people, were to render every fault inexpiable, and every error irretrievable. The qualities by which court is made to power, were to cover and to fanctify every thing. He that will have a sure and honourable seat in the House of Commons, must take care how he adventures to cultivate popular qualities; otherwise he may remember the old maxim, Breves et infauftos populi Romani amores. If, therefore, a pursuit of popularity expose a man to greater dangers than a disposition to servility, the principle which is the life and soul of popular elections will perish out of the constitution.
It behoves the people of England to consider how the House of Commons under the operationi of these examples must of necessity be constituted. On the side of the Court will be, all honours, offices, emoluments; every sort of personal gratification to avarice or vanity; and, what is of more moment to most gentlemen, the means of growing, by innumerable petty services to individuals, into a spreading interest in their country: On the other hand, let us suppose a person una connected with the Court, and in opposition to its system. For his own person, no office, or emolument, or title; no promotion, ecclefiaftical; or civil, or military, or naval, for children, or
brothers, of kindred. In vain an expiring interest in a borough calls for offices, or small livings, for thechildren of mayors, and aldermen, and capital burgesses. His Court rival has them all. He can do an infinite number of acts of generosity and kindness, and even of public spirit. He can 'procure indemnity from quarters. He can procure advantages in trade. He can get pardons for offences. He can obtain a thoufand favours, and avert a thousand evils. He may, while he betrays every valuable interest of the kingdom, be a benefactor, a patron, a father, a guardian angel, to his borough. The unfortunate independent member has nothing to offer, but harsh refusal, or pitiful excuse, or despondent representation of an hopeless interest. Èxcept from his private fortune, in which he may be equalled, perhaps exceeded, by his Court competitor, he has no way of Thewing any one good quality, or of making a single friend. In the House, he votes for ever in a dispirited minority. If he speaks, the doors are locked. A body of loquacious place-men go out to tell the world, that all he aims at, is to get into office. If he has not the talent of elocution, which is the case of many as wise and knowing men as any in the House, he is liable to all these inconveniencies, without the eclat which attends upon any tolerably successful exertion of eloquence. Can we conceive a more discouraging post of duty than this ? Strip it of the poor reward of popularity; suffer even the exceffes committed in