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what he wished his audience to collect from the whole review, was this single, this great principle, that legislation, either in person or by representation, is the equal, the common
the people ceased to exercise, and the power of the state devolved to the monarch and nobles. The natural consequence of which was, that the monarch humbled all to his will. Assemblies continued to be summoned, called the states general, in which the third. estate was Jeemed to represent the people ; but it was little, if any thing, more than a deputation from the king's manumitted villains, the representation of a few incorporated cities in the royal domain, and therefore never could acquire any consequence or dignity, never could be of any weight to preserve an equipoise of power. It was ridiculous to look for the majesty of the people in a few special dependents on the crown, and in this ridiculous light the nobles always considered them; they had no weight in the deliberations; if the king and nobles were agreed, the consent or rather submission of the third éstate was a thing of course. Not united in a common house with a representative of the minor barons, there was not one circumstance, which could lessen the contempt in which they were held. No danger could induce the nobles to form a union with a body, which they were in the habit of despising; and which, though it was but the image, the meagre shadow of a repre
right of all; that it is inherent in the very idea of an English freeman; that it was imported into this island with our early ancestors; that the grant which embraced fel
sentation, might however have led to a union with the people at large. In the last struggle for the liberties of Spain against Charles V, the third estate with the cities it represented made a gallant stand; but the nobles disdaining to confederate with them, the issue was equally fatal to the nobles and to the people. To this contempt in which the third estate was held by the nobilit, is in like manner to be ascribed the downfal of the Galiieli. berties; and indeed to this source, the antipathy of the nobility throughout all Europe to the people, the scorna in which they were heid, a circumstance so contrary to the original features of all the present European nations. This island must be excepted :, the spirit of our nobility has worn a softer and milder aspect, the power and consequence of the people has preserved to Englishmen the character of fellow-citizens. But if through any progressive abuse the third estate in parliament should cease to be a true representation of the people, should degenerate into a representation of the nobles or the crown, or both conjointly, the character of the people will become debased, they will sink into a stupid indifference, a fatal separation will take place between them and the zobles ; and unsupported by their solid power, the ino
low-men as freemen, communicated this right; and that, as all are now free, it is communicated to all. The inequalities in this common right which have taken place, and which the petition aims to redress, have been created by inattention, by accident, by
narch will swallow up all, the nobles will become, as with our neighbours, the base retainers of the monarch, the pageants to set off the lustre of the crown. This moment had made a much nearer approach than many seem to be aware of; the late administration have had a language, a manner, and conduct, which had been unknown since the Revolution. They felt their power, and they seemed disposed to use it, and very slender were the threads on which at that period the liberties of this nation hung. It is a too probable truth, that their incapacity, and the foreign ruin in which this incapacity involved
US, has been our domestic salvation. To recover the constitution, to do away our future fears, and put it out of the power of wickedness itself to effect our internal ruin, is the object of the petition, in which the nability have a double interest, their interest as men, and the interest of their independent consequence in the state. It is a partial and narrow policy, which indisposes many of our more virtuous nobility to a constitutional. restoration of the commons' house, and of which, if their opposition should unhappily be successful, they will bitterly, though too late, repent.
abuse, but do not issue from the spirit orregular usage of the constitution, and have greatly risen to their present dangerous height, against the very intention of the constitution, from those changes which could not possibly have been foreseen. It was the convenience of the monarch, which first erected slaves into corporations of freemen, and summoned them to parliament. Hence arose to the crown that dangerous prerogative, which was too long permitted, of summoning representatives to parliament from whatever place it pleased. This was one source of unequal representation
* This was the source, from which in the neighbouring kingdoms the very defective representation of the commons arose, as has already been observed. The emancipation of the villains, and admitting them to the rank of freemen, was no novelty with our German ancestors. In the countries from which they emigrated, a liberal slavery had been in use among them, and they were accustomed to admit into their armies such of their slaves as recommended themselves to their confidence. The committing arms into the hands of a slave rendered him a freeman. VOL. I.
which the wisdom of parliament has indeed guarded against in future, but too late to prevent the evil consequences.
When it intercepted the farther exercise of this prerogative of the crown, it ought to have rectified the abuses, which the prerogative had already established. Similar inequalities have taken place from the creating of corporations by the barons on their separate estates, which through their influence obtaining a summons to parliament, the absolute property of these boroughs has been conveyed with the estates to their successors. Another and perhaps the most fruitful source has been in the changes and revolutions, which the lapse of time has produced. Great and populous towns have vanished as it were from the face of the land, and have hardly any existence but upon paper ; yet the right of representation continues, though the very cause and reason of representation has ceased : while the very same time and fluctuations of commerce have created many more towns of the first rank and conse