« PředchozíPokračovat »
bims" to be dismissed, and the "flaming sword" to be sheatbed, which had been appointed, at the fall, “to keep from man the way of the tree of life." Faint, before this period, had been the hope, indistinct the prospect, which even good men enjoyed of the heavenly kingdom. "Life and immortality were now brought to light." From the hill of Calvary, the first clear and certain view was given to the world, of the everlasting mansions. Since that hour, they have been the perpetual consolation of believers in Christ. Under trouble, they sooth their minds; amidst temptations, they sup port their virtue; and, in their dying moments. enable them to say, "O death! Where is thy sting? Ograve! Where is thy victory?
ELOQUENCE OF THE SENATE.
1.-Speech of The Earl of Chesterfield, in the House of Lords, February 22, 1740, on the Pension Bill.
Iris now so late, and so much has been said in favor
of the motion for the second reading of the Pension Bill, by Lords much abler than I am, that I shall detain you but a very short while with what I have to say upon the subject. It has been said, by a noble Duke, that this bill can be looked on only as a bill for preventing a grievance that is foreseen, and not as a bill for remedying a grievance that is already felt; because it is not asserted, nor so much as insinuated, in the preamble of the bill, that any corrupt practices are now made use of, for gaining an undue influence over the other House. My Lords, this was the very reason for bringing in the bill. They could not assert, that any such practices are now made use of, without a proof; and the means for coming at this proof is what they want, and what they propose to get by this bill. They suspect there are such practices, but they cannot prove it. The crime is of such a secret nature, that it can very seldom be proved by witnesses; and therefore they want to put it to the trial, at least, of being proved by the oath of one of the parties; which is a method often taken, in cases that can admit of no other proof. This is, therefore, no argument of the grievance not being felt; for a man may, very sensibly, feel a grievance, and yet may not be able to prove it.
That there is a suspicion of some such practices be ing now made use of, or that they will soon be made use of, the many remonstrances from all parts of the
united kingdoms are a sufficient proof. That this suspicion has crept into the other House, their having so frequently sent up this bill, is a manifest demonstration, and a strong argument for its being necessary to have some such bill passed into a law. The other House must be allowed to be better judges of what passes, or must pass, within their own walls, than we can pretend to be. It is evident, they suspect that corrupt practices have been, or soon may be, made use of, for gaining an undue influence over some of their measures; and they have calculated this bill for curing the evil, if it is felt for preventing it, if it is only foreseen. That any such practices have been actually made use of, or are now made use of, is what I shall not pretend to affirm; but I am sure I shall not affirm the contrary. If any such are made use of. I will, with confidence vindicate his Majesty. I am sure he knows nothing of them. I am sure he will disdain to suffer them; but I cannot pass. such a compliment upon his ministers, nor upon any set of ministers that ever was, or ever will be, in this nation; and therefore, I think I cannot more faithfully, more effectually, serve his present Majesty, as well as his successors, than by putting it out of the power of ministers to gain any corrupt influence over either House of Parliament. Such an attempt may be necessary for the security of the minister; but must always be inconsistent with, the security of his master; and the more necessary it is for the minister's security, the more inconsistent it will always be with the king's, and the more dan-gerous to the liberties of the nation.
To pretend, my Lords, that this bill diminishes, or any way encroaches upon the prerogative, is something. very strange. What prerogative, my Lords? Has the crown a prerogative to bribe, to infringe the law, bysending its pensioners into the other House? To say so, is destroying the credit, the authority of the crown, under the pretence of supporting its prerogative. If his Majesty knew that any man received a pension from him, or any thing like a pension, and yet kept his seat in the other House, he would himself declare it, or
withdraw his pension, because he knows it is against law. This bill, therefore, no way diminishes or encroaches upon the prerogative of the crown, which can never be exercised but for the public good. It diminishes only the prerogative usurped by ministers, which is never exercised but for its destruction. The crown may still reward merit in the proper way, that is, openly. The bill is intended, and can operate only against clandestine rewards, or gratuities given by ministers. These are scandalous, and never were, nor will be, given but for scandalous services.
It is very remarkable, my Lords, it is even diverting, to see such a squeamishness about perjury upon this occasion, amongst those, who upon other occasions, bave invented and enacted multitudes of oaths to be taken by men, who are under great temptations, from their private interest, to be guilty of perjury. Is not this the case of almost every oath that relates to the collection of the public revenue, or to the exercise of any office ? Is not this perjury one of the chief objections made by the Dissenters against the Test and Corporation Act? And shall we show a less concern for the preservation of our constitution, than for the preservation of our church The reverend bench should be cautious of making use of this argument: for, if they will not allow us an oath for the preservation of the former, it will induce many people to think. they ought not to be allowed an oath for the preservation of the latter.
By this time, I hope, my Lords, all the inconveniences pretended to arise from this bill, have vanished; and therefore, I shall consider some of the arguments brought to show that it is not necessary. Here I must observe, that most of the arguments made use of for this purpose, are equally strong for a repeal of the laws we have already in being against admitting pensioners to sit and vote in the other House. If it be impossible to suppose, that a gentleman, of great estate and ancient family, can, by a pension, be influenced to do what he ought not to do; and if we must suppose, that none but such gentlemen can ever get into the other House, I am sure the laws for preventing pensioners from hay
ing seats in that House are quite unnecessary, and ought to be repealed. Therefore, if these arguments prevail with your lordships to put a negative upon the present question, I shall expect to see that negative followed by a motion for the repeal of those laws; nay, in a few sessions, I shall expect to see a bill brought in, for preventing any man's being a member of the other House, but such as have some place or pension under the crown. As an argument for such a bill, it might be said, that his Majesty's most faithful subjects ought to be chosen Members of Parliament, and that those gentlemen will always be most faithful to the King, that receive the King's money. I shall grant, my Lords, that such gentlemen will be always the most faithful, and the most obedient to the minister; but for this very reason I should be for excluding them from Parliament. The King's real interest, however much he may be made by his ministers to mistake it, must always be the same with the people's; but the minister's interest is generally distinct from, and often contrary to both: therefore, I shall always be for excluding, as much as possible, from Parliament, every man who is under the least inducement to prefer the interest of the minister, to that of both king and people; and this I take to be the case of every gentleman, let his estate and family be what they will, that holds a pension at the will of the minister.
Those who say, they depend so much upon the honor, integrity and impartiality of men of family and fortune, seem to think our constitution can never be dissolved, as long as we have a shadow of a Parliament. My opinion, my lords, is so very different, that, if ever our constitution be dissolved, if ever an absolute monarchy be established in this kingdom, I am convinced it will be under that shadow. Our constitution consists in the Houses of Parliament being a check upon the crown, as well as upon one another. If that cheek should ever be removed, if the crown should, by corrupt means, by places, pensions and bribes, get the absolute direction of our two Houses of Parliament, our constitution will from that moment, be destroyed. There would be no occasion for the crown to proceed any farther. It.