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cannot be true, and it rests with these immaculate gentlemen to determine by which they will abide. It matters, indeed, not ' much what they pretend; it is manifest that such counsel is given, and such measures pursued, as cannot fail to destroy that confidence and harmony which should ever subsist between a prince and his people.' • The opinion of the freeholders has been ridiculed and represented as the effect of ignorance. The opinion of the freeholders, of the yeomen of this country, and their sons, is not to ‘be so treated. They have good sense, at least, if they have not all the ingenuity, all the sophistry of some gentlemen. They are an honest, a most respectable body. We have heard a great deal of the “principal gentlemen.” It would be well to remember, Sir, that the people once struggled for their liberties, and they had the good luck to get the better: and what became of the gentlemen? Why, they were made the servants of mechanics and persons in business.

in business. Let not so great a stress be ‘laid upon the “principal gentlemen ”. We are told that there

are no general discontents. Why, Sir, Lord Clarendon, when - he is giving an account of Charles the First's execution before

the gates of the palace, tells you, the generality of his people were for him. But none, it seems, but base-born freeholders and the " scum of the earth are now discontented.'fo (Jan. 1770.)

On Ex-OFFICIO INFORMATIONS.— Several gentlemen, Sir, have dwelt with a kind of secret complacency and satisfaction on the high antiquity of the attorney-general's power of filing official informations. They have set before our eyes in every engaging light, the respect and reverence which it has derived

from the savoury mouldiness and the venerable rust of ages. * The monarchy has subsisted and flourished most during the existence of this power. Why, then, quarrel with it at the present juncture, when it is likely to prove most beneficial ? I will not say that there is no weight in this reasoning, because I will not say that there is any question without its difficulties. Most questions have, like Janus, two faces; and if you view only one ' of them, you may, with a little management, make your fa'vourite side assume a pretty fair and comely appearance. Some

thing of this legerdemain is observable on the present occasion. • While the opposers of the motion celebrate the flourishing state of the monarchy during the existence of this power, they forget to prove to us, that it owed that happiness to the attorneygeneral.

Sir, it is the fate of narrow minds and confused heads, to 'mistake one cause for another, and to make nature as great a

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* Speeches, Vol. I. pp. 15, 16.

+ lb. p. 27

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chaos as their own brain. Were it necessary, we might easily trace the Aourishing state of the monarchy up to other causes, and demonstrate by facts, that this institution retarded, rather than accelerated its growth: but there is no occasion for fetch ing such a tedious compass; arguments enough have been already advanced to prove it unconstitutional and incompatible * with liberty. What can be a clearer evidence of its having ' never benefited the kingdom? The same arguments which * prove it now prejudicial, prove it prejudicial ever since its commencement. But what if it should be shewn not to have the

sanction of antiquity ? Sir, I have enquired among others into * this point ; but fortune has not been favourable to my diligence. ' I have not been able to trace it into the darkness and obscurity of remote ages: nay, I have found it to be modern, and as it were of yesterday. Far from fixing it as high up as Edward * the Third, I have been obliged to come much further down

from the source. The words“ matter of record," which have been quoted, did not mean official informations. Bracton, who * is allowed by all to be a good authority, mentions “ actions po‘pular,” which, I apprehend, were founded on these expressions :

but actions popular” were not the same as official inform‘ations; and in short I have, upon the minutest enquiry, been forced to allow them but a modern date.

• Thus then it appears, Sir, that the opposers of the motion cannot take refuge under the wings of antiquity: they are beat * out of the entrenchments of Gothic rubbish, under which they hoped to remain impregnable. Whither now will they fly for shelter ? To a majority of voices : in these alone, not in argument, will they prove victorious. If we have any discretion, any shame left, we must agree to this motion, and either totally • abolish or modify the attorney-general's power of filing official • informations. Were there no other argument for this measure * but that single one advanced by the opposer, that the office is

odious and suspected, it would, in the opinion of any sober man, be sufficient. For, as all government was originally instituted ' for the ease and benefit of the people, no establishment which 'gives them nothing but uneasiness, can be approved by a wise legislature. Let it then be cut off from the constitution as a rotten limb, which escaped the notice of our forefathers in the ' hurry and precipitation of the Revolution. * (Nov. 1770.)

ON THE OBJECTIONS AGAINST Church REFORM.-. We are • told that the Act of Union is irreversible in any point, and that, ' in the present case, it is eternally binding. I will readily own, that so solemn and so important an act is not to be altered with

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out weighty reasons. But then I can never agree that it is, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, absolutely irreversible. • The power of rectifying the most sacred laws, must, by the very & nature of things, be vested in the legislature; because every ' legislature must be supreme and omnipotent with respect to the law, which is its own creature. I will not indeed say, that, if an alteration in the Church of Scotland were proposed, prudential considerations ought not to render us very cautious how we exerted this power. . . . . . But how are we restrained from making innovations and improvements in our own system ? The same argument is not applicable to our case. We are not concluded by the act: its words are general, and insist only on the preservation of the religion established by law. But you will say that the King has sworn to preserve the same religion established by law, and that therefore he can never give his consent to any innovation. What a futile argument! The king only swears to adhere to what is the obvious meaning, to preserve that religion which has the sanction of his parliament. Now will not the system proposed by the petitioners be the religion by law established, if it passes through the three branches of the legislature? Our ancestors were neither so bigoted nor so ill-informed as to leave no door open for reformation. Certainly Scotland did not then look upon the Church of England as absolutely perfect; and I am much mistaken if it has yet altered its sen"timents. Let us then hear no more of these arguments. The 'Union has not precluded the possibility of a change in either our civil or ecclesiastical establishments ; nor is the King bound by his oath not to listen to the restitution of the purity of the Gospel and primitive Christianity.

For my own part, I am no friend to innovations in religion, when the people are not, in consequence of some religious abuse, ‘much aggrieved. That was the case at the Reformation; and then would I have heartily concurred in the alteration at that time made, had I been a member of this House. But had I possessed a vote, when the Directory was going to be established, I would have divided for the Book of Common Prayer; and had I lived when the Common Prayer was re-established, I is would have voted for the Directory. The reason is obvious.

They were not essentially different: neither contained any thing contrary to the Scriptures or that could shock a rational • Christian. The Articles appear to me in the same light.' *

(Feb. 1772.) • We all know that those who loll at ease in high dignities, whether of the Church or of the State, are commonly averse to

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Speeches, Vol. I. pp. 95, 6; 100,

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all reformation. It is hard to persuade them that there can be • any thing amiss in establishments which, by feeling experience, • they find to be so very comfortable. It is true that, from the * same selfish motives, those who are struggling upwards are apt " to find every thing wrong and out of order. These are truths

upon one side and the other; and neither on the one side or the * other, in argument, are they worth a single farthing. I wish * therefore so much had not been said upon these ill-chosen and

worse than ill-chosen, these very invidious topics. I wish still 'more, that the dissensions and animosities which had slept for • a century, had not been just now most unseasonably revived. “But if we must be driven, whether we will or not, to recollect

these unhappy transactions, let our memory be complete and equitable; let us recollect the whole of them together. If the 'Dissenters, as an honourable gentleman has described them, have formerly risen from awhining, canting, snivelling generation,"* to be a body dreadful and ruinous to all our establishments, let him call to mind, the follies, the violences, the outrages and persecutions that conjured up, very blameably, but very naturally, the same spirit of retaliation. Let him recollect, * along with the injuries, the services which Dissenters have done to our Church and to our State. IF THEY HAVE ONCE

DESTROYED, MORE THAN ONCE THEY HAVE SAVED THEM. * This is but common justice, which they and all mankind have a right to.

· Two honourable gentlemen assert that, if you alter her sym'bols, you destroy the being of the Church of England. This, * for the sake of the liberty of that church, I must absolutely deny. The church, like every body corporate, may alter her laws without changing her identity. As an independent church, professing fallibility, she has claimed a right of acting without the consent of any other. As a church, she claims, and has * always exercised, a right of reforming whatever appeared amiss “in her doctrine, her discipline, or her rites. She did so, when ‘she shook off the papal supremacy in the reign of Henry VIII., which was an act of the body of the English Church, as well as

of the State - I don't inquire how obtained. She did so, when * she twice changed her liturgy in the reign of King Edward.

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* There can be no doubt that the hon. gentleman alluded to was Oxford-bred. At the late revels in celebration of the installation of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington as Chancellor of that polished seat of learning and Toryism, among the watch-words given out by the undergraduates as a signal for cheers, groans, or hisses, that of the Dissenters' was followed a long protracted snuffle and an ejaculation of Amen with a nasal twang; and that of the House of Commons with a loud hists !!

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"She did so, when she cut off three articles from her original

Forty-two, and reduced them to the present Thirty-nine. And she certainly would not lose her corporate identity, nor subvert her fundamental principles, though she were to leave ten of the thirty-nine which remain, out of any future confession of her ' faith. She would limit her corporate powers, on the contrary, ' and she would oppose her fundamental principles, if she were to

deny herself the prudential exercise of such capacity of reforma• tion.

'In the next place, I am clear, that the Act of Union has not rendered any change whatsoever in our church impossible, but by a dissolution of the Union between the two kingdoms. . What shall we think of the wisdom, to say nothing of the competence of that Legislature which should ordain to itself snch a fundamental law at its outset, as to disable itself from executing its own functions ; which should prevent it from making any further laws, however wanted, and that, too, on the most interesting subject that belongs to human society, and • where she most frequently wants its interposition ; which should ' fix those fundamental laws that are for ever to prevent it from

adapting itself to its opinions, however clear, or to its own ne*cessities, however urgent. Such an act would for ever put the

church out of its own power: it certainly would put it far above 'the State, and erect it into that species of independency which it has been the great principle of our policy to prevent.

“I will not enter into the abstract merits of our Articles and · Liturgy. Perhaps there are some things in them which one • would wish had not been there. They are not without the

marks and characters of human frailty. But it is not human ' frailty and imperfection, and even a considerable degree of them, ' that becomes a ground for your alteration ; for, by no alteration ' will you get rid of those errors, however you may delight yourselves in varying to infinity the fashion of them. But the ground for a legislative alteration of a legal establishment is * this, and this only; that you find the inclinations of the majority of the people, concurring with your own sense of the intolerable nature of the abuse, are in favour of a change. If *this be the case in the present instance, certainly you ought to make the alteration that is proposed, to satisfy your own consciences, and to give content to your people.'* (Feb. 1772.)

ON RELIEF TO DISSENTERS.—The honourable gentleman thinks, that the Dissenters enjoy a large share of liberty under a 'connivance; and he thinks, that the establishing toleration by law is an attack upon Christianity. The first of these is a con

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* Speeches, Vol. I. pp. 101–105.

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