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mon blessing to the whole people. They did not say, these are the rights of the great barons, or these are the rights of the great prelates:-No, my lords; they said, in the simple Latin of the times, nullus liber homo, and provided as carefully for the meanest subject as for the greatest. These are uncouth words, and sound but poorly in the ears of scholars; neither are they addressed to the criticism of scholars, but to the hearts of free men. These three words, nullus liber homo, have a meaning which interests us all; they deserve to be rememberedthey deserve to be inculcated in our minds-they are worth all the classicks. Let us not, then, degenerate from the glorious example of our ancestors. Those iron barons (for so I may call them when compared with the silken barons of modern days) were the guardians of the people; yet their virtues, my lords, were never engaged in a question of such importance as the present. A breach has been made in the constitution-the battlements are dismantledthe citadel is open to the first invader-the walls totter -the constitution is not tenable. What remains then, but for us to stand foremost in the breach, to repair it, or perish in it?
Great pains have been taken to alarm us with the consequences of a difference between the two houses of parliament-that the house of commons will resent our presuming to take notice of their proceedings; that they will resent our daring to advise the crown, and never forgive us for attempting to save the state. My lords, I am sensible of the importance and difficulty of this great crisis: at a moment, such as this, we are called upon to do our duty, without dreading the resentment of any man. But if apprehensions of this kind are to affect us, let us con. sider which we ought to respect most, the representative, or the collective body of the people. My lords, five hundred gentlemen are not ten millions; and if we must have a contention, let us take care to have the English nation on our side. If this question be given up, the freeholders of England are reduced to a condition baser than the peasantry of Po
land. If they desert their own cause, they deserve to be slaves! My lords, this is not merely the cold opinion of my understanding, but the glowing expression of what I feel. It is my heart that speaks. I know I speak warmly, my lords; but this warmth shall neither betray my argument nor my temper. The kingdom is in a flame. As mediators between the king and people, it is our duty to represent to him the true condition and temper of his subjects. It is a duty which no particular respects should hinder us from performing; and whenever his majesty shall demand our advice, it will then be our duty to inquire more minutely into the causes of the present discontents. Whenever that inquiry shall come on, I pledge myself to the house to prove, that since the first institution of the house of commons, not a single precedent can be produced to justify their late proceedings. My noble and learned friend (the lord chancellor) has pledged himself to the house, that he will support that assertion.
My lords, the character and circumstances of Mr. Wilkes have been very improperly introduced into this question, not only here, but in that court of judicature where his cause was tried. I mean the house of commons. With one party he was a patriot of the first magnitude; with the other the vilest incendiary. For my own part, I consider him merely and indifferently as an English subject, possessed of certain rights which the laws have given him, and which the laws alone can take from him. I am neither moved by his private vices, nor by his publick merits. In his person, though he were the worst of men, I contend for the safety and security of the best; and, God forbid, my lords, that there should be a power in this country of measuring the civil rights of the subject by his moral character, or by other rule but the fixed laws of the land! I believe, my lords, I shall not be suspected of any personal partiality to this unhappy man. I am not very conversant in pamphlets or newspapers; but, from what I have heard, and from the little I have
read, I may venture to affirm, that I have had my share in the compliments which have come from that quarter; and, as for motives of ambition (for I must take to myself a part of the noble duke's insinuation) I believe, my lords, there have been times in which I have had the honour of standing in such favour in the closet, that there must have been something extravagantly unreasonable in my wishes if they might not all have been gratified. After neglecting those opportunities, I am now suspected of coming forward in the decline of life, in the anxious pursuit of wealth and power, which it is impossible for me to enjoy. Be it so. There is one ambition at least which I ever will acknowledge, which I will not renounce but with my life. It is the ambition of delivering to my posterity those rights of freedom which I have received from my ancestors. I am not now pleading the cause of an individual, but of every freeholder in England. In what manner this house may constitutionally interpose in their defence, and what kind of redress this case will require and admit of, is not at present the subject of our consideration. The amendment, if agreed to, will naturally lead us to such an inquiry. That inquiry may, perhaps, point out the necessity of an act of the legislature, or it may lead us, perhaps, to desire a conference with the other house; which one noble lord affirms is the only parliamentary way of proceed ing; and which another noble lord assures us the house of commons would either not come to, or would break off with indignation. Leaving their lordships to reconcile that matter between themselves, I shall only say, that before we have inquired, we cannot be provided with materials: consequently we are not at present prepared for a conference.
It is not impossible, my lords, that the inquiry I speak of may lead us to advise his majesty to dissolve the present parliament; nor have I any doubt of our right to give that advice, if we should think it necessary. His majesty will then determine whether he will yield to the united petitions of the people of England, or
maintain the house of commons in the exercise of a legislative power, which heretofore abolished the house of lords, and overturned the monarchy. I willingly acquit the present house of commons of having actually formed so detestable a design; but they cannot themselves foresee to what excesses they may be carried hereafter; and for my own part, I should be sorry to trust to their future moderation. Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it; and this I know my lords, that, where law ends, tyranny begins!
MR. BURKE'S SPEECH,
ON MOVING HIS RESOLUTIONS FOR CONCILIATION WITH THE COLONIES. DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, THE 22d OF MARCH, 1775.
FROM the commencement of the disputes between the mother country and the colonies, Mr. Burke seems to have directed a very diligent attention to the subject, as involving the primary interests of the empire. By maintaining a constant intercourse with many of the enlightened characters in the different provinces, he acquired a more extensive and intimate knowledge of the physical and moral condition of the country, with its real views, dispositions, and resources than, perhaps, was attained by any of his cotemporaries. The result of this superiour intelligence was a decided conviction, which he carried through every stage of the controversy, that the exasperated feeling existing in the colonies could only be allayed, and their alienated attachment revived and permanently secured by placing them exactly on the same footing on which they stood previous to the introduction of the new and arbitrary system of government. An attempt to sustain the pretensions of the parent state, whether right or wrong, by force, he uniformly predicted would prove impracticable, and must, if adhered to, eventuate in her discomfiture and disgrace.
To reconcile, by an entire repeal of all the offensive measures, coupled with a solemn renunciation of the principles on which they were founded, so as to leave no just cause of complaint, was the counsel which he strenuously urged.