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nion, that nothing could be a libel but subject to be discussed. Upon any great what was false ; but merely as to those constitutional question, no man could rewhich respected this House. But this probate such a practice more than he did; was not sufficient; it was not only neces- for instance, when they were discussing sary that the allegations should be false, any question which related to the constibut there must be a fair presumption that tution or policy of the country, then he the author himself was convinced of their did think it a mean and contemptible falsehood. He also thought it was neces- species of quibbling for gentlemen to be sary that the error imputed to the author calling for proof, upon every subject that should not be one of a trivial nature ; and was advanced, as they were in the habit that it should not be merely a theoretical of doing; they seemed unable to withdraw one, but one that tended plainly to prac- their ideas from a criminal prosecution at tical consequences. These were grounds the Old Bailey, and with all the nicety of which he should expect to be laid in every special pleaders, demanded technical proof case where a charge of a libel was made in upon points that were matters of general that House : for it was absurd to say, be- notoriety. In disquisitions upon questions cause a man differed in opinion from of science, or of law, that degree of reothers upon an abstract question, that finement was not only excuseable but netherefore he was culpable. It was no very cessary; for if a man professed to consider easy matter to find two men of learning any nice question of mathematics in a and sense, who would agree upon the loose popular way of reasoning, it would same definition of the constitution of this not be attended to.—He was ready to adcountry: it was well known that many mit, that if it required a great degree of people differed from Mr. Hume, and that acute investigation to be able to put an Mr. Hume and Mrs. Macaulay differed innocent construction upon this book, and from each other, yet it never was in con- that the first and obvious effect of it was templation to prosecute either of them such as had been attributed to it, it was for their different definitions. But these then a criminal production ; but was that were not the only points he wished to be the fact? What was the object of the convinced of, before he gave his assent author of this book ? It was to write a to a motion of this kind; there was an- careful, and from the work it appeared a other: he thought it should appear that skilful analysis of that complex machine, the author was aware of the consequence the British constitution-A subject that of what he wrote and published. Upon required great acuteness of mind, and lathis point, he understood the learned gen- borious investigation, and one in which, tleman opposite went even farther than he above all others, a particular expression did ; however, if there was any failure in should not be taken up without a reference the proof of these particulars, he should to the difficulty of the subject, and to the conceive it to be a good reason for re- train of the argument. He was of opijecting this motion. He had stated, that nion that the writer of this book had 'in he did not agree with gentlemen on the view this object; namely, to make a cuother side, in the interpretation they had rious and nice speculation upon the na. put upon this passage; but in saying that, ture and component parts of the British he did not mean merely that the words constitution; and in the course of it he inwere capable of another construction ; quired, if certain parts of this compli. but that, upon a fair and impartial consi- cated machine were taken away, what deration of the passage, no such intention would be the effect and operation of the could be attributed to it. Gentlemen remainder? Just as a man might take a had said, and with what fairness he would watch, or any machine, and withdraw leave it to the House to judge, that in dis some one of its wheels, to see how the cussing this point, he had been guilty of other parts would go on, without any idea quibbling. It was no uncommon thing of recommending such a change, but for those who were fond of refining upon merely upon a principle of abstract spearguments, when they found those very culation. And if, in discussing a question arguments carried on to a degree of re- of so abstruse a nature, a mere abstract finement which turned against themselves, opinion was to be considered as so exto call it quibbling; but with respect to tremely culpable, he should like every one the propriety of carrying on an argu- of the gentlemen opposite to write down ment with any very great degree of nicety, their ideas of the constitution, and then it depended much upon the nature of the he should be glad to see how far they agreed with one another, and how far part he had just read, to mean, that the they agreed with those writers who have King, by going on in all his functions hitherto been considered to be authorities without Lords or Commons, would have upon the constitution. When the author the power to make laws. On that snpof this book asserts that the Lords and position, what an absurdity were they atCommons spring from the crown, is that tributing to this man! They supposed a criminal assertion? The origin of this, him to say, that the king might, without as of every other government, is hid in parliament, enjoy all the powers of goobscurity and mystery; and a man might vernment, and yet that he had no legis. be wrong in point of historical accuracy,
power. But suppose there was a and yet not in any degree guilty of the degree of incorrectness and ambiguity in charge imputed to the author. Nothing this particular passage (which he wished could tend, in a stronger degree, to show the House to recollect was only a metathe difficulty of men exactly agreeing phorical passage), though it might affect upon any great political or constitutional the author's reputation, yet it would not point, than the Revolution. There were justify such a resolution as the one promany opinions, and those of very great posed. Taking his proposition generally, men too, which totally differed upon that it was certainly true, for the kingly goevent. And among those who did not vernment did go on, while parliament was totally differ, what innumerable shades interrupted either by prorogation, dissoand gradations were there in the opinions lution, or other regular causes. But formed upon it. He was sure that every would that hold good vice versa? Would gentleman who fairly and impartially parliament remain if the king were gone? considered that event, must be of opinion Certainly not. It was upon this ground that the ideas now so industriously cir- that the author argued, and in his opinion culated about it, were equally dangerous argued constitutionally. So thoroughly and false : the object of them was to convinced was he of the innocent inprove, that the king, in this country, held tentions of the author, that he would his crown by the choice of his people; a as soon put his hand in the fire, as adopt proposition utterly incompatible with the the constructions of the other side of the constitution ; but a proposition, the House. object for circulating which was ex- Mr. Pitt said, that however little doubt tremely apparent.— But, after all, what he might entertain upon the meaning and was the ground of charge against effect of this passage, he could not suffer this book? It was founded upon a me- it to be imputed to his right hon. friend, taphor, which, in his opinion, was ra- that an assertion which tended to degrade ther a bad foundation for a prosecution. the English constitution and to rob the Mr. Windham then proceeded to read people of one of the securities which they the objectionable passage.
had for their happiness, could be consitended that, particularly as to the ex- dered by him as not worthy of punishpression of “ lopped off,” the author did ment. İlis right hon. friend only consi. not use that expression indefinitely, but dered that no such tendency had been talked of one of those temporary suspen- proved with respect to the pamphlet in sions of parliament, of which history af- question; and no one who knew his right forded many instances; and what might hon. friend's character, could for a mo. be considered as a proof that such was ment entertain a doubt of his extreme his meaning was, that two pages before, anxiety to maintain the constitution in viz. in page 11, he says, that the legisla- all its parts. He had carefully read the tive power is lidged in the king and both book in question, and confessed he was Houses of Parliament.- He came now to not able to put that construction upon it what he contended was, in his opinion, which his right hon. friend had pressed the strongest part of the passage, viz. with so much ability, His right hon. " The kingly government may go on in friend seemed to think that if, by refineall its functions without Lords or Com- ment of argument, the passage in
quesa mons." He admitted there might be tion would bear another meaning than ambiguity or incorrectness in this passage, that in which it was considered as crimibut having in a former part of his work nal, then it would be wrong for a jury to stated, that the power of making laws find the defendant guilty, or for that was vested in the King, Lords, and Com House to agree to any such resolution as mons, he could not be supposed, in the the present. It was with extreme reluce (VOL. XXXII.)
tance that he differed from his right hon. certainly did exist; and if by the Confriend, but he considered it to be the quest, and the feudal system super-induty of a jury not to look for a meaning, duced upon it, there was a temporary inwhich, by a possible construction, the terruption to the existence of that check, words would bear; but to take the fair still it revived: the root lay too deep to and obvious meaning of the passage, and be destroyed.--His right hon. friend had such as they had the most reason to sup- compared the author to a man taking pose was in the contemplation of the au- away some part of a machine, in order to ihor when he wrote it. It was in that see the effect of the remainder of the way that a jury should consider the mean- works. This might be a very curious ing of any passage; and it was in that experiment with a machine; but when a way that he, as a member of parliament, man sat about to to inquire what part of would endeavour to construe them. a mixed government might be taken Upon reading over the whole of this away, the inquiry at best would be usepamphlet, he was ready to adniit that less; but if, by showing that one part there were many contradictory passages might be taken away without injury to in it; but they by no means went the the others, it had a tendency to recomlength of showing, by fair inference of mend a practical experiment, then it reasoning, that the passage alluded to did would cease to be merely useless, and not convey the meaning attributed to it. begin to be criminal. To point out They might, indeed, afford a ground of one branch of the constitution as less imargument to a counsel employed in his portant than the others, was, in bis opidefence; but, in the impartial considera. nion, criminal ; yet that was what the aution which that House would give them, thor of this pamphlet had done in speak. they would appear only as inconsistencies, ing of the two Houses of Parliament. which might, perhaps, create some con- The reasoning in this book did not fusion, but by no means tended to qualify merely go to say, that if, in consequence the assertion complained of. What was of a foreign invasion, a pestilence, or any it that was maintained by the author of other extraordinary event, the parliament this book, and what was the defence set was prevented from sitting, then in that up for him? Was it to be contended, interim the king might exercise the functhat, according to the constitution of this tions of government ; for that argument country, the king could go on and exer- would be true ; it spoke not of a tempocise the functions of government without rary interruption to the functions of parparliament? He would not stop to in- liament, but of their being lopped off toquire what a king might do, if both tally. Now, in saying that the king Houses of Parliament were lopped off ; could go on alone, whether the author but he would not hesitate to say, that he meant that the king should possess the could not be a constitutional king; and legislative power or not, he conceived that, from the moment the two Houses him to be equally wrong. If he was ceased to be integral parts of the consti- supposed to have the power of making tution, that moment the constitution laws, then a total subversion and des. ceased to exist. If he did continue to truction of the constitution must be pregovern, it must be by a power totally sumed. If it was supposed that the king new to the constitution; as much so as had not the legislative power, then it was if it were contended that a House of equally wrong and absurd; because a reCommons alone could exercise the func- vision of the conduct of the executive gotions of all the branches of the constitue vernment formed a part of the duty and tion, and yet that constitution remain privilege of parliament; and it was abentire.His right hon. friend had treated surd to talk of the king having the sole this as a mere dry, abstract, speculative government vested in him, and yet not question, in which the author was inquir- the power of making laws. Upon all ing into the origin of our constitution, these grounds, he was inclined to think, and arguing that monarchy was the that the construction which his right hon. source from whence the other branches friend had put upon this pamphlet was had sprung. It was not easy to trace out erroneous, and that the real meaning was any period in our history when kingly a doctrine incompatible with the existence government existed without a check on of the British constitution. the part of the people. During the Mr. Courtenay asked, if there could be reigns of the Saxon monarchs that check a possible doubt of the nature and tendency of the pamphlet? After exalting duction from the school of Filmer. He and worshipping the power of the crown, the author adds — “ Still farther to the author; it breathed his language, his strengthen this all-powerful sway, two spirit, and his principles. qualities are added that seem to bring Mr. Wilberforce said, that if they conthis royal sovereignty, as far as mortal sidered the character and situation of institutions can be, still nearer to the go- the supposed author of the pamphlet, vernment of heaven." Now, observe the it could not be viewed as a despicasublime reasoning by which this is proved. ble performance. It was with much « First, this power is to have perpetual satisfaction that he had attended to the continuance—the king never dies : se- two speeches of his learned friends; but condly, such unbounded power shall be he confessed that satisfaction was allayed presumed to be exercised with as eminent by the speech which he had heard from goodness ; and it is accordingly held that the secretary at war, who perhaps, had the king can do no wrong. After this gone a little farther than he ought to have preliminary flourish, the author proceeds done, in defending a man whom he might to lop off the Lords and Commons, as su- think loyal and deserving. He hoped that perfluous branches, and leaves the royal right hon. gentleman would consider the trunk free and disincumbered to flourish subject according to the true principles of in secula seculorum. In every part of this the constitution. In adhering to these, he wretched performance, the constitution, should himself be led to combat some of as fixed at the glorious Revolution, is vi- that right hon. gentleman's expositions. lified and traduced. The pamphlet ad- | He had argued, as if it was a matter of subvanced a new and dangerous doctrine, tie inquiry, to find out the exact meaning namely, “ that the kingly, government of the author of the pamphlet ; but the may go on in all its functions, without plain question, to his mind, was, not what either Lords or Commons; and that the a nice logician might or might not extort Lords and Commons derive their exist- from it; but what the sense of certain ence and authority from the king." With- passages really was, as compared with out submitting that question to the so- the context, the general drift of the perciety of arts and sciencies, or even to formance, and the impression which the that board of agriculture under which perusal was likely to make on the gene
Mr. Arthur Young holds so conspicuous rality of readers. He should therefore n a place, he would rather appeal to the decline entering on a nice inquiry, as to judicious Montesquieu, who said, that the precise meaning of particular expres
whosoever read Tacitus on the manners sions. He remarked that the right hon. * of the Germans, would find that he said, gentleman had found out what made in “ De minoribus rebus principes consul- | favour ofthe author, more than what made tant, de majoribus omnes.' Hence they against him. In the passage so frequently would see, that the English had taken quoted, there appeared to him something the idea of their government from that clearly unconstitutional ; the author conauthority, and that the beautiful system sidered the component parts of the conof the British constitution and government stitution, as if they could be disjointed, as was first invented in the woods of Ger- if one part could survive the extinction of many." To assert that the Lords and the others; how far, or for how long a Commons derived all their functions from period, this might take place, he knew the crown was most unconstitutional not; but he was fully convinced, that if a doctrine. Not under the Saxon or disjunction ever took place there was an even the Norman line had any such doc- end of the British constitution, each branch trine prevailed ; during the latter period, of it being inseparably connected with the the English always claimed the rights others. He appealed, in illustration of they enjoyed under the Saxon govern- this fact, to the days of Charles 1st. The "ment, though they were not always suc- three component parts of our constitution cessful in their claims. The pamphlet, were so blended and assimilated in one indull as it was, contained doctrines that separable essence, that they were incapawere absurd, and principles that were bi- ble of being detached. He denied that gotted. It dimly shone from the bor- the kingly government could subsist inderowed lustre of a treatise written by a pendent of parliament; it was from the man of the most celebrated parts and votes and grants of that House, that the luxurious fancy, and was evidently a pro- crown derived its strength, its assistance, and its supplies.-Mr Wilberforce discuss which he declared the other night, and sed the practical effect which the publica, which his attentive perusal of the whole tion was calculated to produce, and in context had confirmed, but upon account of sisted that it was likely to do mischief, by ingenious difficulties which he felt in his detaching the affections of the people own mind, that he adopted the doubts of his from that which they ought all to cherish hon. friend who spoke last respecting the as an object of profound veneration and amendment upon the original motion, conesteem; and more especially considering tained in the new words imputing to this the present circumstances of the times, he pamphlet a libel upon the Revolution. He thought it was likely to produce great could not, satisfactorily to his own mind, practical harm without the timely inter- agree to that amendment; for though ho ference of that House. In looking over was convinced the writer did not love the the pamphlet, he said a sort of ridicule Revolution, or wish to have its principles appeared to him to be applied to the con treated with respect, he had been rather stitution. Now, if ever there existed a sarcastical upon it than libellous, and had time when it particularly behoved the even studiously, though perhaps artfully, House not to suffer a pamphlet of that na- commended the act as well as the actors in ture, to be slightly passed over, the pre- some parts of the work. The chancellor sent was that period. The parliament was of the exchequer had expressed a doubt then endeavouring to check seditious and whether by the resumption of the kingly libellous publications of an opposite ten- power in all its functions when the Lords dency; it therefore became them, to and Commons were lopt off,” the writer vindicate themselves from the charge of meant executive capacities alone, or leinjustice and partiality. Let every asper- gislative too. It was clear to bis convicsion of that sort be done away; and let tion that he meant both; for having desthem not subject themselves to the impu- cribed, in one of the passages preceding tation of passion or prejudice in their de- this, a king, who made, as well as exeterminations. He had voted for the treason cuted the law, who never died, and who and sedition bills, from the consideration could never du wrong, he adds, “ these that the speeches, publications, and pro- are the the original and main principles ceedings of the societies referred to, in upon which plain Englishmen could flamed the minds of their hearers and safely rest for their property and freedom. readers; not only by defaming the monarch, But the English will not always confide ; but also the people of England; and for the jealousies arose and fears. To meet and same reason he was ready with equal wil appease them, qualifications were annexed. lingness, to stand forth and vindicate the The king was accordingly in future to constitution from the stigmas of men of make these laws, with consent of the Lords an opposite description. The pamphlet and Commons." Then he introduces the treated with disrespect the labours of their i figure of this “ tree, and of its branches ancestors, at the period of the Revolution lopt off,” upon which event the “ kingly to whom they were indebted for the prac- power would exercise all its functions." tical liberty they at present enjoyed. It What functions ? Those which it exerstruck him as a matter of difficulty how cised when the king made the law, and the House could act on the present occa- before his power to make it was limited. sion; though the pamphlet abounded with He would say no more upon the libel, excontradictions and political heresies, he cept only to re-assert, that it was gross and could not tell how far an ingenious lawyer scandalously false. What measures the might be able to confound the minds ofa House would, in its justice and wisdom, common jury; he had his doubts, in par pursue against the offender, he gave no ticular, as to that part of the motion, opinion, more than to say, that he wished which charged the pamphlet with being a for lenity, as far as it could be reconciled libel on the glorious Revolution ; because with honour. But he thought, in times although the writer had indirectly cen- like these, to censure such a libel, was an sured some of the principles on which the act of sound policy, as well as justice. It Revolution was founded, and again, and would show to the people out of doors, again, by inference, reflected upon it, impartial judgment in the House of Comall that he had said, did not, in his mind mons against libellers of all descriptions, clearly amount to a libel