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Let us try, my lords, whether some gentler reme. dies may not be discovered. Since we cannot cure the disorder, let us endeavour to infuse such a portion of new health into the constitution, as may enable it to support its most inveterate diseases.
The representation of the counties is, I think, still preserved pure and uncorrupted. That of the greatest cities is upon a footing equally respectable; and there are many of the larger trading towns, which still preserve their independence. The infusion of health which I now allude to, would be to permit every county to elect one member more, in addition to their present representation. The knights of the shires approach nearest to the constitutional representation of the country, because they represent the soil. It is not in the little dependent boroughs, it is in the great cities and counties that the strength and vigour of the constitution resides, and by them alone, if an unhappy question should ever arise, will the constitution be honestly and firmly defended. It would increase that strength, because I think it is the only security we have against the profligacy of the times, the corruption of the people, and the ambition of the crown.
I think I have weighed every possible objection that can be raised against a plan of this nature; and I confess I see but one, which, to me, carries any appearance of solidity. It may be said, perhaps, that when the act passed for uniting the two kingdoms, the number of persons who were to represent the whole nation in parliament was proportioned and fixed on for ever. That this limitation is a fundamental article, and cannot be altered without hazarding a dissolution of the Union.
My lords, no man who hears me can have a greater reverence for that wise and important act, than I have. I revere the memory of that great prince who first formed the plan, and of those illustrious patriots who carried it into execution. As a contract, every article of it should be inviolable; as the common basis of the strength and happiness of two nations, every arti. cle of it should be sacred. I hope I cannot be suspect
ed of conceiving a thought so detestable, as to propose an advantage to one of the contracting parties at the expense of the other. No, my lords, I mean that the benefit should be universal, and the consent to receive it unanimous. Nothing less than a most urgent and important occasion should persuade me to vary even from the letter of the act; but there is no occasion, however urgent, however important, that should ever induce me to depart from the spirit of it. Let that spirit be religiously preserved. Let us follow the principle upon which the representation of the two countries was proportioned at the Union; and when we increase the number of representatives for the English coun. ties, let the shires of Scotland be allowed an equal privilege. On these terms, and while the proportion limited by the Union is preserved by the two nations, I apprehend that no man who is a friend to either, will object to an alteration, so necessary for the security of both. I do not speak of the authority of the legislature to carry such a measure into effect, because I imagine no man will dispute it. But I would not wish the legislature to interpose by an exertion of its power alone, without the cheerful concurrence of all parties. My object is the happiness and security of the two nations, and I would not wish to obtain it without their mutual consent.
My lords, besides my warm approbation of the motion made by the noble lord, I have a natural and personal pleasure in rising up to second it. I consider my seconding his lordship’s motion, and I would wish it to be considered by others, as a publick de. monstration of that cordial union, which I am happy to affirm, subsists between us--of my attachment to those principles which he has so well defended, and of my respect for his person. There has been a time, my lords, when those who wished well to neither of us, who wished to see us separated for ever, found a sufficient gratification for their malignity against us both. But that time is happily at an end. The friends of this country will, I doubt not, hear with pleasure, that the noble lord and his friends are
now united with me and mine, upon a principle which, I trust, will make our union indissoluble. It is not to possess, or divide, the emoluments of government; but, if possible, to save the state. Upon this ground we met; upon this ground we stand, firm and inseparable. No ministerial artifices, no private offers, no secret seduction, can divide us. United as we are, we can set the profoundest policy of the present ministry, their grand, their only arcanum of government, their divide et impera, at defiance.
I hope an early day will be agreed to for considering the state of the nation. My infirmities must fall heavily upon me, indeed, if I do not attend my duty that day.
When I consider my age, and unhappy state of health, I feel how little I am personally interested in the event of any political question. But I look forward to others, and am determined, as far as my poor ability extends, to convey to them who come after me, the blessings which I cannot hope to enjoy myself.
MR. MURRAY'S SPEECH,
AFTERWARDS LORD MANSFIELD,' ON A BILL INTRODUCED INTO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH, 1742, TO PREVENT THE ENSURANCE OF FRENCH SHIPS, &c. DURING THE WAR.
To indulge the liberal curiosity which we know has eagerly sought the legal and parliamentary speeches of the late Earl Mansfield, we have directed a very careful and extensive research into the multifarious repositories of fugitive literature.
But this range of inquiry has been rewarded with such slender acquisitions, that it has served to confirm the apprehension 've entertained when we undertook it, that these glorious productions of his genius and of his learning had met with the sinister fate common to the eloquence of the imes.
As far as we are able to determine, it appears that, of all his forensick pleadings, not one has been faithfully reported. The substance, indeed, of many of them may be had, but naked and deformed, without any of the life, or grace, or elegance of diction by which they were confessedly distinguished in the delivery. We reject, therefore, the whole of these unseemly, crude, and defective reports, as the mere husks from which has escaped, in the careless process of preservation, every particle of the etherial spirit originally infused into his speeches.
This neglect of his legal, has not been redeemed by any superiour attention to his parliamentary elo
quence. For though upwards of half a century he , took a leading part in the more important debates of
the two houses, there is a very small number of his real speeches extant. Of the meagre skeletons of the stenographer, and of the plausible impositions of venal writers, enough may be found. We have culled a few speeches that are indubitably genuine, and which perhaps, are the only remaining monuments of his'eloquence, except his judicial decisions, some of which are interspersed with the sublimest effusions of the art.
The speech here inserted, was delivered on the eleventh of December, 1747, on a bill brought into the house of commons to prevent the ensurance of French ships, and their lading, during the continuance of the war with that power. Though in this speech we do not discern much of the mellifluence of the “silver tongued Murray,” yet we at once recognize in it the accustomed subtlety of his argumentation, and the profound and pertinent knowledge which he uniformly brought into discussion.
The correct views exhibited in the speech of an exceedingly interesting doctrine of commercial policy give it a solidity of value not to be impaired by any comparative deficiency of rhetorical drapery.
ALTHOUGH I have very little hopes of succeeding in opposition to what the honourable gen. tleman has proposed, yet, as I have the honour of a seat in this assembly, I think the duty I owe to my country obliges me to give my sentiments openly and freely upon the subject, because, I see we are about to do what we have often done upon like occa. sions. We are going to make a regulation under popular pretences, which, in my opinion, will ruin a very beneficial branch of trade we are now in possession of, I may say, without a rival, and will transfer it to our greatest rival and most dangerous enemy; This, I say, sir, we have often done before, of which I could give a multitude of instances, but shall men