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that of being commissioner to a long session of a factious Scots parliament, with an antedated commission, and that yet renders the rest of the ministers more miserable. What hinders us then, my lord, to lay aside our divisions, to unite cordially and heartily together in our present circumstances, when our all is at stake. Hannibal, my lord, is at our gates-Hannibal is come within our gates-Hannibal is come the length of this table-He is at the foot of the throne. He will de. molish the throne, if we take not notice. He will seize upon these regalia. He will take them as our spolia opima, and whip us out of this house, never to return again.
For the love of God, then, my lord, for the safety and welfare of our ancient kingdom, whose sad circumstances I hope we shall yet convert into prosperity and happiness! We want no means if we unite. God blessed the peace makers. We want neither men, nor sufficiency of all manner of things necessary to make a nation happy. All depends upon management; concordia res parvæ crescunt. I fear not these articles, though they were ten times worse than they are, if we once cordially forgive one another, and that according to our proverb, Bygones be Bygones, and fair play for time to come. For my part, in the sight of God, and in the presence of this honourable house, I heartily forgive every man, and beg that they may do the same to me; and I do most humbly propose, that his grace, my lord commissioner, may appoint an agape, may order a love feast for this honour. ble house, that we may lay aside all self designs, and after our fasts and humiliations, may have a day of rejoicing and thankfulness; may eat our meat with gladness, and our bread with a merry heart. Then shall we sit each man under his own fig tree, and the voice of the turtle shall be heard in our land, a bird famous for constancy and fidelity.
IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, ON THE REPEAL OF THE SEP
TENNIAL ACT. MARCH 13, 1734.
HOWEVER daring may be considered the exertion of parliamentary authority which passed the septennial act, it no doubt was a measure called for by the corruption and turbulence of the times, and which the experience of its beneficial effects completely vindicates.
Frequency of election has uniformly proved the curse of every state in which it was indulged. It renders the councils of a nation as fluctuating as the popular will, and as flagitious as the popular dispositions. It substitutes in legislation for the energy of wisdom, and the coolness of discretion, the violence of folly and the rashness of that party intemperance which it enkindles. It keeps a nation perpetually heated by the ferments it necessarily excites, and lets loose to prey upon society the worst of human passions. It vitiates publick morals, and poisons individual comfort.
No country ever has, or will preserve its internal peace or attain to any height of power or glory which idly permits frequent appeals to popular suffrage.
The change in the constitution of the English house of commons certainly was productive of very salutary consequences. It protected, at a moment of alarm the
publick safety, and infused into the government a stability, vigour, firmness, and consistency, which have enabled it to defeat the designs of faction, and to carry the country triumphantly through all those arduous struggles, and critical junctures in which, during the last and present centuries, it has been placed.
The septennial bill met, when originally introduced into parliament with a vehement resistance; and subsequently on several occasions, strenuous attempts were made, but without success, to procure its repeal. The first of these efforts was in the year 1734. The opposition of that period came forward, and urged it with an uncommon display of ability. They were answered with equal talent by the ministry. No debate, indeed, in the British senate is more celebrated for its eloquence. The speech of Sir William Wyndham has been particularly extolled. By one writer* it is exultingly cited as exhibiting “ the unrivalled orator, the uncorrupted Briton, and the unshaken patriot.” By anothert it is pronounced to be
master-piece of eloquence” and that its reasonings which are fully stated, are unanswerable. Not the slightest notice is taken by either of these historians of the reply of Sir Robert Walpole, or of any of the speeches in support of the bill. We have acted with less partiality. The ablest speech on each side is here inserted. These comprehend all the principal arguments employed in the discussion of the subject. Whatever may be the energy and ingenuity of the attack, it does not surpass the skill and strength of the defence. That mind, truly, must be very
, weak, or dull, or crooked, which, after reading the speech of Sir Robert Walpole, is not convinced of the impolicy, and dangerous tendency of frequent elections.
THE honourable gentleman who spoke last, in vindicating, as he called it, his learned friend, threw out a very unfair reflection upon the conduct of a worthy gentleman under the gallery, whose behaviour in parliament, I have been a witness of; and I can say without flattery, it has been as even and as honoura. ble, as the behaviour of any gentleman in this house; and if the honourable gentleman thinks otherwise, I
he is single in his opinion: He is, I believe, the only man, either in the house or out of it, who thinks so; I wish the behaviour of every other gentleman, I will not say in this, but in former parliaments, had been as unexceptionable: for if it had, I am very sure we should have had no occasion for this day's debate.
The observation made by the learned gentleman, which the honourable gentleman took up so much time to explain, was without exception; it was just, it was plain, and therefore wanted neither an explanation nor a vindication ; but, sir, what the worthy gentleman under the gallery, and others as well as he took notice of, was an expression that fell from the learned gentleman, I dare say, without design. He said, that we were to have no dependance upon our constituents; he went further, he said it was a dangerous dependance; nay, he went further still, and said, it was more dangerous than a dependance on the crown. This my worthy friend took notice of, and with his usual modesty, called it a new doctrine. It is, sir, not only a new doctrine, but it is the most monstrous, the most slavish doctrine that was ever heard, and such a doctrine as I hope no man will ever dare to support within these walls; I am persuaded, sir, the learned gentleman did not mean what the words he happened to make use of may seem to import; for though the people of a county, city, or borough may be misled, and may be induced to give