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paying some attention to an object, which ought to engage and interest us all. I flattered myself I should see some barriers thrown up in defence of the constitution; some impediment formed to stop the rapid progress of corruption. I doubt not we all agree that something must be done. I shall offer my thoughts, such as they are, to the consideration of the house; and I wish that every noble lord that hears me, would be as ready as I am to contribute his opinion to this important service. I will not call my own sentiments crude and indigested; it would be unfit for me to offer any thing to your lordships, which I had not well considered; and this subject, I own, has not long occupied my thoughts. I will now give them to your lordships without reserve.
Whoever understands the theory of the English constitution, and will compare it with the fact, must see at once how widely they differ. We must reconcile them to each other, if we wish to save the liberties of this country; we must reduce our political practice, as nearly as possible, to our principles. The constitution intended that there should be a permanent relation between the constituent and representative body of the people. Will any man affirm, that, as the house of commons is now formed, that relation is in any degree preserved? My lords, it is not preserved; it is destroyed. Let us be cautious however, how we have recourse to violent expedients.
The boroughs of this country have properly enough been called the rotten parts of the constitution. I have lived in Cornwall, and without entering into any invidious particularity, have seen enough to justify the appellation. But in my judgment, my lords, these boroughs, corrupt as they are, must be considered as the natural infirmity of the constitution. Like the infirmities of the body, we must bear them with patience, and submit to carry them about with us. The limb is mortified, but the amputation might be death.
Let us try, my lords, whether some gentler remedies 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 arti cle 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 counties, 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 demonstration 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,
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 we 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 eloquence. For though upwards of half a century he took a leading part in the more important debates of