« ZurückWeiter »
E N G L A N D,
THE EARLIEST PERIOD
FROM WHICH LAST-MENTIONED EPOCH IT IS CONTINUED)
DOWNWARDS IN THE WORK ENTITLED,
COMPRISING THE PERIOD
FROM THE THIRD DAY OF DECEMBER
L O N D ON:
PRINTED BY 'T. C. HANSARD, PETERBOROUGH-COURT, FLEET-STREET:
BLACK, KINGSBURY, PARBURY, & ALLEN; J. HATCILARD; J. RIDGWAY
A FEW days previous to the death of the late Sir Philip Francis, he sent for the Editor of The Parliamentary History, and obtained from him a promise, that the following Letter, with the short Notice thereto prefixed, should have a place in the present Volume. It related, he said, to a subject, upon which he was most anxious that his public character should hereafter stand on the right ground. The request was urged with much earnestness; and, in complying with it, the Editor feels that he is only doing justice to the memory of one, from whom, during the progress of his undertaking, he has been in the habit of receiving the most valuable assistance.*
J. WRIGHT. Panton Square, January 1, 1819.
Sir Philip Francis's constitutional principles and uniform conduct in Parliament
are sufficiently known in the present times. The Parliamentary History contains ample evidence of both. On a particular subject, he has been misrepresented by a person, whose authority is likely to have weight with many, and whose writings will certainly be preserved in libraries. A fugitive answer in a newspaper, to a charge so authorized, and so prepared for preservation, though sufficient at the moment, would leave Sir Philip's reputation unprotected
hereafter, The Editor therefore thinks that he contributes to the administration of moral justice among men, by recording the following paper; with no observation, but that it was published several months before Mr. Burke's death. For the MORNING CHRONICLE.
St. James's-square, Feb. 20, 1797. In the 71st page of a printed Letter from Mr. Burke to the Duke of Portland, without a date, I find the following assertions :
“ Some of these gentlemen who have attacked the House of Commons, lean to a " Representation of the People by the head ; that is, to individual Representation. “ None of them, that I recollect, except Mr. Fox, directly rejected it. It is remark"able, however, that he only rejected it by simply declaring an opinion: he let all " the argument go against his opinion. All the proceedings and arguments of his
* To Sir Pbilip Francis the public are indebted for the reports of the Earl of Chatham's Speeches in the year 1770, which will be found in Vol. xvi, pp. 647, 741, and 1071. Sir Philip came into parliament in May 1784, and continued a member of the House of Commons until the dissolution in May 1790. All the principal Speeches which appear in this Work under his name, were carefully corrected by himself. llis Speeches, from his return to parlament in 1802 to his final retirement in 1807, will be found recorded, under the same auspices, in The PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES, which form the Continuation of this work.
"reforming friends lead to individual Representation, and to nothing else. It de"serves to be attentively observed, that this individual Representation is the only plan " of their reform which has been explicitly proposed."
And in page 81, I am named as one of a phalanx, to whom not only these views, proceedings, arguments, and plans of Parliamentary Reform are imputed, but who had thought proper to treat him as a deserter, as if he had sworn to live and die in our French principles. I belicve I shall sufficiently clear myself from these imputations by declaring as I do
1st, That, having been a Member of the Society of the Friends of the People, and having had a share in the conduct of their proceedings, I know of no Act, Order, Resolution, Proposition, Motion, or Proceeding of any kind, in that $o. ciety, in favour of individual or universal Representation.
2nd, That I am morally certain, that, if any motion to that effect had been proposed, it would have been rejected by a very great majority of the whole Society.
Srd, That, if it had been possible for such a motion to prevail, I would have quitted the Society and opposed their proceedings.
4th, That in fact a very different principle of Reform, and incompatible with that imputed to us, viz. by extending the right of voting to all householders paying parochial taxes, and stopping there, was unanimously adopted by the Society, on the 9th of April, 1794.
5th, That, on the 30th May, 1795, the Society unanimously approved of a Plan formed by me on this principle, and recommended it to the consideration of the public; and that this plan was published in all the Newspapers.
6th, That I have, on all occasions, resisted and reprobated, to the utmost of my power, the idea of individual or universal Representation, particularly at a Meeting of the Society on the 8th of March 1794, at which I expressly treated it
as a dangerous chimera, set up on purpose to delude the lower classes of the People. In the House of Commons, on the 23rd of January, 1795,* the following words make part of my answer to the Attorney General :
“ With respect to universal Representation, and all the dangers and all the re“ proaches attached to it, I must say, that I think the learned gentleman ought to be “ careful to distinguish those who profess to have such a scheme in contemplation, “ and others who reject it with a disapprobation as full and entire, though not perhaps “ with such extravagant horror, as he does. He ought to have known, that the idea " of universal Representation was never encouraged or countenanced by any Act or “ Declaration whatever of our Association. If he knows any thing to the contrary, I “ call upon him now-I challenge him to point it out. Of me, in particular, he must “ have known, and, in candour, he ought to have acknowledged, that it is not possi“ ble for any man to go farther than I have done, to reject, to resist, and to explode “ every project of that nature, and every principle and argument set up to support it ; “ a project, however, so chimerical and so utterly impracticable, that it is superfluous " to load it with charges of danger and malignity. But, let the doctrine I allude to “ be ever so mischievous and ever so dangerous, is it in fact-is it in truth, the real “ object of all the apprehensions and terrors, which are said to be excited by it?-I do “ not believe it; I do not believe that the enemies of Reform are so much terrified by “ it as they pretend to be. They know, as well as I do, that it is nothing but a vision, “ which can never be substantiated—a mere abstraction, which can never be realised. “ No, Sir; whatever they may pretend, this is not the true ground of their uneasiness. “ It is the reasonable, the moderate, the practicable plan, which really fills them with “ terror and anxiety. That, perhaps, might be accomplished, the other never can ; “nor, if it were even to obtain for a moment, could it possibly subsist; and I am “ convinced, that, if it were possible to drive those persons to an option, they would “ prefer the worst to the best; because they would foresee, that the mischiefs inevita“ble in the execution of such a scheme, or even in the attempt, would determine
* See Vol. 31, p. 1164.