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“ 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 believe 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 So. 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.
“ every reasonable man in the country to revert and submit to the present system; " that is, to suffer the Constitution to languish and dissolve in its corruption, or gra“ dually to perish by decay, rather than to encounter the direct and positive dangers “ of a change so violent and extreme, to which their minds would naturally unite the “ certainty of instant destruction.”
In my Speech on the Slave Trade, on the 11th of April 1796, there is the following passage:
" In the lowest situations of life the People know as well as we do, that wherever personal industry is encouraged, and property protected, there must be inequalities
of possession, and consequently distinction of ranks. Then come the form and the “ order, by which the substance is at once defined and preserved. Distribution and “ Limitation prevent confusion, and Government by orders is the natural result of “ property protected by Freedom. Take care that you adhere to it. Where the few " possess all, and the multitude have nothing, there is no Government by orders. “ Every thing is in extremity, and nothing in gradation."
Whether these are French principles or not, I neither know nor care. I assert that they are mine.
See Vol. 32, p. 961.
4. Debate on the Same ........