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the constitution of this couotry, that the members of both houses shall be free in their persons, in ca. ses of civil suirs; for there may come a time when the safety and welfare of this whole empire, may depend upon their attendance in parliament. I am far from advising any measure that would in future endanger the state; but the bill before your lord. ships bas, I am confident, no such tcodeoty; for it expressly secures the persons of members of either house in all civil suits. This being the case,
I confess, when I see many poble lords, for whose judg. - ment I have a very grat respect, standing up to
oppose a bill which is calculated merely to facilitate the recovery of just and legal debts, I am astonish. ed apd amazed. They, I doubt pot, oppose the bill upon public principles : I would not wish to insinuate, that private interest had the least, weight in their determinarion.
The bill has been frequently proposed, and as frequently has miscarried, but it was always lost in the lower house. Little did I think, when it had passed the Commons, that it possibly could have met with such opposition here. Shall it be said, that you, my lords, the grand council of the nation, the highest judicial and legislative body of the realm, endeavour to evade, by privilege, those very laws which you enforce on your fellow subjects ? Forbid it justice ! I am sure, were the poble lords as well acquainted as I am, with but half the difficul. ties and delays occasioned in the courts of justice, under pretence of privilege, they would not, Day they could bot, oppose the bill.
I have waited with patience to hear what argu. ments might be urged against this bill : but I have waited io yain; the truth is, there is no argument that can weigh against it. The justice and expediency of the bill are such as reoder it self-evident. It is a proposition of that parure, which can neither be weakened by argument, por entangled with g
phistry. Much, indeed, has been said by some oo. ble lords, on the wisdom of our ancestors, and how differently they thoughi from us. They not only decreed, that privilege should prevent all civil suits from proceeding during the sitting of parliament, but likewise granted protection to the very servants of members. I shall say nothing on the wisdom of our ancestors; it might perhaps appear invidious : that is not necessary in the present case. I shall only say, that the noble lords who flatter themselves with the weight of that reflection should remember, that as circumstances alter, things themselves should alter. Formerly, it was not so fashionable either for masters or servants to run io debt, as is is at prescot. Formerly, we were not that great evmmercial nation we are at presedi; nor formerly, were merchanis and manufacturers members of par. liament, as at present. The case is now very difo fereni: burb merchants and manufacturers are, with great propriety, elected members of the lower house. Commerce having thus got into the legislative body of the kingdom, privilege must be done away. We all know that the very soul and essence of trade are regular paymenis: and sad experience teaches us, that there are men, who will not make their regular payments without the compulsive power of the laws. The law then ought to be equally open to all. Any exemption to particular ranks of men, is, in a free and commercial country, a solecison of the grossest nature.
Bui I will not trouble your lordships with argu. meots for that, which is sufficiently evidedi without any. I shall only sav a few words to some poble. lords, who foresee much inconvenience, from the persons of their servants beiog liable to be arrested. One noble lord observes, That the coachman of a peer may be arrested, while he is driving his mas ter to the house, and that consequently, he will no: e able to altend his duty ia parliament. If his
were actually to happen, there are so many methods by which the member might still get to the house, that I can hardly think the noble lord is serious in his objection. Another coble peer said, That, by this bill, one might lose his most valuable aod hon. est seryants. This I hold to be a contradiction in terms : for he can neither be a valuable servant, nor an honest man, who gets into debt which he is neither able nor willing to pay, till compelled by the law. If my servant, by voforseen accidents, has got into debt, and I still wish to retain him, I cer. iainly would pay the demand. But upon po pria. ciple of liberal legislation whatever, cao my servant have a title to set his creditors at defiance, while, for forty shillings only, the honest tradesman may be toro from his family and lucked up in a gaul. It is monstrous injustice! I datier mysell, howev. er, the determination of this day will entirely put an end to all these partial proceedings for the luiure, by passing into a law the bill now under your lord. ships' consideration.
I come now to speak upon what, indeed, I would have gladly avoided, had I not been particularly poio!ed at; for the part I have taken in inis bill. le has been said, by a noble lord oo' my left hand, that I likewise“ am running the race of popularity. If the noble lord means by popularity, that applause bestowed by alterages on good and virtuous actions, I have long been struggling in that race : co what purpose, all-trying time can alone deierinioe. But if the noble lord means that mushroom popularity, which is raised without merit, and lost without a crime, he is much mistaken in his opinion. I dely the poble lord 10 poiot out a single action of my
life in which the popularity of the times ever had the smallest influence on my determinations. I thank God, I have a more permaneut and steady rule for my
conduct, -the dictates of my own breast. Those who have foregone that pleasing adviser, and y
úp'their mind !o be the slave of every popular in . pulse, I 910 erely pitv; I pity them still more, if their vanity leads them to mistake the shouts of a mob, for the trumpet of fame. Experience might inform them, that many, who have been saluted with the huzz48 of a crowd one day, have received their execrations, the next; and many, who by the popularity of their rimes, have been held up as spotless patriots, have, nevertheless, appeared upon the historian's page, when truth has triumphed over de. lusion, the assassins of liberty. Why then the no. ble lord can think I am ambitious of present popu. larity, that echo of folly, and shadow of renown, I om at a loss to determine. Besides, I do not know that the bill now before your lordships will be popular; it depends much upon the caprice of the day. It may not be popular to compel people to pay their debts; and, in that case, the preseni must be a very unpopular bill.
It may not be popular pei her to take away any of the privileges of parliament; for I very well remember, and many of your lordships may remember, that, not long ago, the popular cry was for the extentsion of privilege; and so far did they carry it at that time, that it was said, the prive ilege protected members cvep in criminal actions : nay, such was the power of popular prejudices over weak miods, that the very decisions of some of the courts were tinctured with that doctrine. It was undoubtedly an abominable doctrine. I thought so then, and I thiuk so still: but, nevertheless, it was a popular doctrine, and came immediately from those who are called the friends of liberty : how deservedly, time will show. True liberty, in my opinion, can only exist when justice is equally administered to all; to the king and to the heggar. Wnere is the justice then, or where the law that protects a member of parliament, more than any other mao, from the punishment due to his crimes?
e laws of this country allow of po place, nor any
employment, to be a sanctuary for crimes ; and where I have the honour to sit as judge, neither royal favour, por popular applause, shall protect the guilty.
I have now only to beg pardon for having em. ployed so much of your lordships' time; and I am sorry a bill, faught with so many good coosequen, ces, has oot met with an abler advocate : but I doubt not your lordships' determination will convince the world, that a bill calculated to contribute os much to the equal distribution of justice as the present, requires with your lordships but very little support.
An addross to young persons. ,
I INTEND, in this address, to show you the imporn taace of beginning early to give serious attention to your conduct. -As soon as you are capable of reflection, you must perceive that there is a rignt and a wrong in human actions. You see, that those who are born with the same advantages of fortune, are not all equally prosperous in the course of life. While some of them, by wise and steady conduct, attain dis. tinction in the world, and pass their days with comfort and honour; others, of the same rank, 'by mean and vicious behaviour, forfeit the advantages of their birth; in yolve themselves in much misery, and end io being a disgrace to their friends, and a burden on society. Early, then, may you learn, that it is not on the external condition in which you find yourselves placed, but on the part which you are to act, that your welfare or wohappiness, your honor or infamy, depends. Now when beginning to act that part, what can be of greater moment than to regulate your plan of conduct with the most serious attention, betore you have yet committed any fatal or irretrievable errors? If, instead of exerting relection for this valuable purpose, you deliver yourselves up, at so critical a time, to sloth aod pleasures; if you refuse to listen to any counsel