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any great fleets to provide for, the crown did not want frequent supplies; so that they were not under any necessity of calling frequent parliaments; and as par. liaments were always troublesome, often dangerous to ministers, therefore they avoided the calling of any such, as much as possible. But though the crown did not then want frequent supplies, the people frequently wanted a redress of grievances, which could not be obtained but by parliament. Therefore the only complaint then was, that the crown either did not call any parliament at all, or did not allow them to sit long enough. This was the only complaint, and to remedy this, it was thought sufficient to provide for having frequent parliaments; every one of which 'twas presumed, was always to be a new parliament; for it is well known, that the method of prorogation was of old very rarely made use of, and was first introduced by those who were attempting to make encroachments upon the rights of the people.

But now, sir, the case is altered. The crown, either by ill management, or by prodigality and profuseness to its favourites, has spent or granted away all that estate; and the publick expense is so much en. larged, that the crown must have annual supplies, and is therefore under a necessity of having the parliament meet every year; but as new elections are always dangerous, as well as troublesome to ministers of state, they are for having them as seldom as possible; so that the complaint is not now for want of frequent meetings or sessions of parliament, but against having the same parliament continued too long. This is the grievance now complained of. This is what the people desire. This is what they have a right to have redressed. The members of parliament may, for one year, be looked on as the real and true representatives of the people: but when a minister has seven years to practise upon them, and to feel their pulse, they may be induced to forget whose representatives they are. They may throw off all dependance upon their electors, , and may become dependants upon the crown, or rather upon the minister for the time being, which

the learned gentleman has most ingenuously confessed to us, he thinks less dangerous than a dependance

upon his electors.

We have been told, sir, in this house, that no faith is to be given to prophecies, therefore I shall not pretend to prophecy; but I may suppose a case, which, though it has not yet happened, may possibly happen. Let us then suppose, sir, a man abandoned to all notions of virtue or honour, of no great family, and of but a mean fortune, raised to be chief minister of state, by the concurrence of many whimsical events; afraid or unwilling to trust any but creatures of his own making, and most of them equally abandoned to all notions of virtue or honour ; ignorant of the true interest of his country, and consulting nothing but that of enriching and aggrandizing himself and his favourites ; in foreign affairs, trusting none but such whose education makes it impossible for them to have such knowledge or such qualifications, as can either be of service to their country, or give any weight or credit to their negotiations. Let us suppose the true interest of the nation, by such means, neglected or misunderstood; her honour and credit lost; her trade insulted; her merchants plundered; and her sailors murdered ; and all these things overlooked, only for fear his administration should be endangered. Suppose him, next, possessed of great wealth, the plunder of the nation, with a parliament of his own choosing, most of their seats purchased, and their votes bought at the expense of the publick treasure. In such a parliament, let us suppose attempts made to inquire into his conduct, or to relieve the nation from the distress he has brought upon it; and when lights proper for attaining those ends are called for, not perhaps for the information of the particular gentlemen who call for them, but because nothing can be done in a parliamentary way, till these things be in a proper way laid before parliament; suppose these lights refused, these

, reasonable requests rejected by a corrupt majority of his creatures, whom he retains in daily pay, or engages in his particular interest, by granting them those posts and places, which ought never to be given to any but for the good of the publick. Upon this scandalous victory, let us suppose this chief minister pluming himself in defiances, because he finds he has got a parliament, like a packed jury, ready to acquit him at all adventures. Let us further suppose him arrived to that degree of insolence and arrogance, as to do. mineer over all the men of ancient families, all the men of sense, figure, or fortune in the nation, and as he has no virtue of his own, ridiculing it in others, and endeavouring to destroy or corrupt it in all.

I am still not prophesying, sir ; I am only supposing; and the case I am going to suppose I hope never will happen ; but with such a minister and such a parliament, let us suppose a prince upon the throne, either for want of true information, or for some other rea. son, ignorant and unacquainted with the inclinations and the interest of his people, weak, and hurried away by unbounded ambition and insatiable avarice. This case, sir, has never yet happened in this nation; I hope, I say, it will never exist; but as it is possible it may, could there any greater curse happen to a nation, than such a prince on the throne, advised, and solely advised, by such a minister, and that minister supported by such a parliament? The nature of mankind cannot be altered by human laws, the existence of such a prince or such a minister, we cannot prevent by act of parliament, but the existence of such a parliament I think we may; and as such a parliament is much more likely to exist, and may do more mischief while the septennial law remains in force, than if it were repealed, therefore I am most heartily for the repeal of it.

SPEECH OF SIR ROBERT WALPOLE,

ON A MOTION TO REPEAL THE SEPTENNIAL BILL, DELIVERED

IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS 1734, IN REPLY TO SIR WILLIAM WYNDHAM.*

SIR,

I DO assure you, I did not intend to have troubled you in this debate; but such incidents now generally happen towards the end of our debates, nothing at all relating to the subject, and gentlemen make such suppositions, meaning some person, or perhaps, as they , say, no person now in being, and talk so much of wicked ministers, domineering ministers, ministers pluming themselves in defiances, which terms, and such like, have been of late so much made use of in this house, that if they really mean nobody either in the house or out of it, yet it must be supposed they at least 'mean to call upon some gentleman in this house to make them a reply; and therefore I hope I may be allowed to draw a picture in my turn; and I may likewise say, that I do not mean to give a de

. scription of any particular person now in being. When gentlemen talk of ministers abandoned to all sense of virtue or honour, other gentlemen may, I am sure, with equal justice, and, I think, more justly, speak of anti-ministers and mock-patriots, who never had either virtue or honour, but in the whole course of their opposition are actuated only by motives of envy, and of resentment against those who have disappointed them in their views, or may not perhaps have complied with all their desires.

But now, sir, let me too suppose, and the house being cleared, I am sure no person that hears me can come within the description of the person I am to

a

* Vide Preface to the preceding speech. VOL. I.

XX

suppose. Let us suppose in this, or in some other unfortunate country, an anti-minister, who thinks himself a person of so great and extensive parts, and of so many eminent qualifications, that he looks upon himself as the only person in the kingdom capable to conduct the publick" affairs of the nation, and therefore christening every other gentleman who has the honour to be employed in the administration, by the name of Blunderer. Suppose this fine gentleman lucky enough to have gained over to his party some persons really of fine parts, of ancient families, and of great fortunes, and others of desperate views, arising from disappointed and malicious hearts ; all these gentlemen, with respect to their political behaviour, moved by him, and by him solely; all they say, either in private or publick, being only a repetition of the words he has put into their mouths, and a spitting out of that venom which he has infused into them; and yet we may suppose this leader not really liked by any, even of those who so blindly follow him, and hated by all the rest of mankind. We will suppose this anti-minister to be in a country where he really ought not to be, and where he could not have been but by an effect of too much goodness and mercy, yet endeavouring, with all his might and with all his art, to destroy the fountain from whence that mercy flowed. In that country suppose him continually contracting friendships and familiarities with the ambassadours of those princes who at the time happen to be most at enmity with his own; and if at any time it should happen to be for the interest of any of those foreign ministers to have a secret divulged to

a them, which might be highly prejudicial to his native country, as well as to all its friends; suppose this foreign minister applying to him, and he answering, I ' will get it you, tell me but what you want, I will endeavour to procure it for you: upon this he puts a speech or two in the mouths of some of his creatures, or some of his new converts; what he wants is moved for in parliament, and when so very reasonable a re. quest as this is refused, suppose him and his creatures

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