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thofe countries which have already fubmitted their necks to the yoke? We are now come to the Rubicon; our army is now to be reduced, or it never will; from his Majesty's own mouth we are affured of a profound tranquillity abroad, we know there is one at home: if this is not a proper time, if thefe circumftances do not afford us a fafe opportunity for reducing at least a part of our regular forces, we never can expect to fee any reduction; and this nation, already overburdened with debts and taxes, must be loaded with the heavy charge of perpetually fupporting a numerous ftanding army, and remain for ever expofed to the danger of having its liberties and privileges trampled upon by any future King or Miniftry, who fhall take it in their heads to do fo, and fhall take a proper care to model the army for that purpose.
SIR JOHN ST. AULIN'S SPEECH FOR REPEAL. ING THE SEPTENNIAL ACT.
THE fubject matter of this debate is of fuch importance, that I fhould be ashamed to return to my electors, without endeavouring, in the best manner I am able, to declare publicly the reafons which induced me to give my most ready affent to this question.
THE people have an unqueftionable right to frequent new parliaments by ancient ufage; and this ufage has been confirmed by feveral laws, which have been progreffively made by our ancestors, as often as they found it neceffary to infift on this effential privilege.
PARLIAMENTS were generally annual, but never continued longer than three years, till the remarkable reign of Henry Vill. He, Sir, was a prince of unruly appetites, and of an arbitrary will; he was impatient of every reftraint; the laws of God and man fell equally a facrifice,
as they flood in the way of his avarice, or difappointed his ambition; he therefore introduced long Parliaments, becaufe he very well knew, that they would become the proper inftruments of both; and what a flavish obedience they paid to all his meafures is fufficiently known.
If we come to the reign of King Charles the First, we muft acknowledge him to be a prince of a contrary temper; he had certainly an innate love for religion and virtue. But here lay the misfortune he was led from his natural difpofition by fycophants and flatterers; they advised him to neglect the calling of frequent new Parliaments ; and therefore, by not taking the constant sense of his people in what he did, he was worked up into fo high a notion of prerogative, that the Commons (in order to reftrain it) obtained that independent fatal power, which at laft unhappily brought him to his moft tragical end, and at the fame time fubverted the whole conftitution. And I hope we fhall learn this leffon from it, never to compliment the crown with any new or extravagant powers, nor to deny the people thofe rights, which by ancient ufage they are entitled to; but to preserve the just and equal balance, from which they will both derive mutual fecurity, and which, if duly obferved, will render our conftitution the envy and admiration of all the world.
KING CHARLES the Second naturally took a furfeit of Parliaments in his father's time, and was therefore extremely defirous to lay them afide. But this was a scheme impracticable. However, in effect he did fo; for he obtained a Parliament, which by its long duration, like an army of veterans, became fo exactly difciplined to his own meafures, that they knew no other command but from that perfon who gave them their pay.
THIS was a fafe and moft ingenious way of enflaving a nation. It was very well known, that arbitrary power, if was open and avowed, would never prevail here. The
people were therefore amufed with the fpecious form of their ancient conftitution: it exifted, indeed, in their fancy; but, like a mere phantom, had no substance nor reality in it; for the power, the authority, the dignity, of Parliaments were wholly loft. This was that remarkable Parliament which so jusftly obtained the opprobrious name of the PENSION PARLIAMENT; and was the model, from which, I believe, fome later Parliaments have been exactly copied. At the time of the Revolution, the people made a fresh claim of their ancient privileges; and as they had fo lately experienced the misfortune of long and fervile Parliaments, it was then declared, that they fhould be held frequently. But it feems, their full meaning was not understood by this declaration and therefore, as in every new fettlement the intention of all parties fhould be fpecifically manifefted, the Parliament never ceafed ftruggling with the crown, till the triennial law was obtained: the preamble of it is extremely full and ftrong; and in the body of the bill you will find the word declared before enacted, by which I apprehend, that though this law did not immediately take place at the time of the Revolution, it was certainly intended as declaratory of their first meaning, and therefore ftands a part of that original contract under which the conftitution was then fettled. His Majefty's title to the crown is primarily derived from that contract; and if, upon a review, there fhall appear to be any deviations from it, we ought to treat them as fo many injuries done to that title. And I dare fay, that this Houfe, which has gone through fo long a series of services to his Majefty, will at laft be willing to revert to those original stated measures of government, to renew and strengthen that title.
BUT, Sir, I think the manner in which the feptennial law was first introduced, is a very strong reafon why it should be repealed. People, in their fears, have very often re◄ courfe to defperate expedients, which, if not cancelled in
feafon, will themselves prove fatal to that conftitution, which they were meant to fecure. Such is the nature of the feptennial law; it was intended only as a preservative against a temporary inconvenience': the inconvenience is removed, but the mischievous effects ftill continue; for it not only altered the conftitution of Parliaments, but it extended that fame Parliament beyond its natural duration : and therefore carries this moft unjuft implication with it, that you may at any time ufurp the moft indubitable, the moft effential privilege of the people—I mean that of chcofing their own reprefentatives. A precedent of fuch a dangerous confequence, of fo fatal a tendency, that I think it would be a reproach to cur ftatute book, if that law were any longer to fubfift, which might record it to pofterity.
THIS is a feafon of, virtue and public fpirit. Let us take advantage of it to repcal thofe laws which infringe our liberties, and introduce fuch as may reftore the vigour of our ancient conftitution.
HUMAN nature is fo very corrupt, that all obligations fofe their force, unless they are frequently renewed Long Parliaments become therefore independent of the people; and when they do fo, there always happens a moft dangerous dependence elfewhere.
LONG Parliaments give the minifter an opportunity of getting acquaintance with members, of practifing his feveral arts to win them into his fchemes. This muft be Corruption is of fo bafe a nature, Hardly any
His difpofition muft
the work of time.. that at firft fight it is extremely fhocking, one has fubmitted to it all at once. be previoufly underftcod, the particular bait must be found. out with which he is to be allured, and after all, it is not without many ftruggles that he furrenders his virtue.— Indeed, there are fome, who will at once plunge them. felves into any bafe action; but the generality of mankind are of a more cautious nature, and will proceed only by leifurely
leifurely degrees. One or two perhaps have deferted their colours the first campaign, fome have done it a fecond.-But a great many, who have not that eager difpofition to vice, will wait till a third.
FOR this reafon, fhort Parliaments have been lefs corrupt than long ones; they are obferved, like streams of water, always to grow more impure the greater distance they run from the fountain-head.
I AM aware, it may be faid, that frequent new Parlia ments will produce frequent new, expenfes, but I think quite the contrary; I am really of an opinion, that it will be a proper remedy against the evil of bribery at elections, especially as you have provided fo whole fome a law to cooperate upon thefe occafions.
BRIBERY at elections, whence did it arife? Not from country gentlemen, for they are fure of being chofen without it; it was, Sir, the invention of wicked and corrupt minifters, who have, from time to time, led weak princes into fuch deftructive measures, that they did not dare to rely upon the natural reprefentation of the people.-——— Long Parliaments, Sir, firft introduced bribery, because they were worth purchafing at any rate: Country gentlemen, who have only their private fortunes to rely upon, and have no mercenary ends to ferve, are unable to oppofe it, especially if at any time the public treafure fhall be unfaithfully fquandered away to corrupt their boroughs. Country gentlemen, indeed, may make fome weak efforts; but as they generally prove unfuccefsful, and the time of a fresh ftruggle is at fo great a distance, they at laft grow faint in the difpute, give up their country for loft, and retire in defpair.-Defpair naturally produces indolence, and that is the proper difpofition for flavery. Ministers of ftate understand this very well, and are therefore unwilling to awaken the nation out of its lethargy by frequent elections. They know that the fpirit of liberty, like every