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being profitable to all engaged in it, or to the nation that authorizes it. In the beginning of a war, some rich ships are surprised and taken. This encourages the first adventurers to fit out more armed vessels, and many others to do the same. But the enemy at the same time become more careful, arm their merchant-ships better, and render them not so easy to be taken ; they go also more under the protection of convoys. Thus, while the privateers to take them are multiplied, the vessels subject to be taken, and the chances of profit, are diminished; so that many cruises are made, wherein the expenses overgo the gains; and, as is the case in other lotteries, though particulars have got prizes, the mass of adventurers are losers, the whole expense of fitting out all the privateers during a war being much greater than the whole amount of goods taken.

Then there is the national loss of all the labor of so many men during the time they have been employed in robbing, who, besides spend what they get in riot, drunkenness, and debauchery; lose their habits of industry, are rarely fit for any sober business after a peace, and serve only to increase the number of highwaymen and housebreakers. Even the undertakers, who have been fortunate, are by sudden wealth led into expensive living, the habit of which continues, when the means of supporting it cease, and finally ruins them; a just punishment for their having wantonly and unfeelingly ruined many honest, innocent traders and their families, whose substance was employed in serving the common interest of mankind.




Addressed to Sir Charles Wyvill, and accompanied by the following note to him from the author, dated Passy, June 16th, 1785. – “ I send you herewith the sketch I promised you. Perhaps there may be some use in publishing it; for, if the power of choosing now in the boroughs continues to be allowed as a right, they may think themselves more justifiable in demanding more for it, or holding back longer, than they would, if they find that it begins to be considered as an abuse." - EDITOR.

No man, or body of men, in any nation, can have a just right to any privilege or franchise not common to the rest of the nation, without having done the nation some service equivalent, for which the franchise or privilege was the recompense or consideration.

No man, or body of men, can be justly deprived of a common right, but for some equivalent offence or injury done to the society in which he enjoyed that right.

If a number of men are unjustly deprived of a common right, and the same is given in addition to the common rights of another number, who have not merited such addition, the injustice is double. Few, if

any, of the boroughs in England, ever performed any such particular service to the nation, entitling them to what they now claim as a privilege in elections.

Originally, in England, when the King issued his writs calling upon counties, cities, and boroughs, to depute persons who should meet him in Parliament, the intention was to obtain by that means more perfect information of the general state of the kingdom, its faculties, strength, and disposition; together with the advice their accumulated wisdom might afford him in “such arduous affairs of the realm ” as he had to propose. And he might reasonably hope, that measures approved by the deputies in such an assembly would, on their return home, be by them well explained, and rendered agreeable to their constituents and the nation in general. At that time, being sent to Parliament was not considered as being put into the way of preferment, or increase of fortune; therefore no bribe was given to obtain the appointment. The deputies were to be paid wages by their constituents; therefore the being obliged to send and pay was considered rather as a duty than a privilege. At this day, in New Eng- . land, many towns, who may and ought to send members to the Assembly, sometimes neglect to do it; they are then summoned to answer for their neglect, and fined if they cannot give a good excuse; such as some common misfortune, or some extraordinary public expense, which disabled them from affording, conveniently, the necessary wages. And, the wages allowed being barely sufficient to defray the deputy's expense, no solicitations are used to be chosen.

In England, as soon as the being sent to Parliament was found to be a step towards acquiring both honor and fortune, solicitations were practised, and, where they were insufficient, money was given. Both the ambitious and avaricious became candidates. But to solicit the poor laborer for his vote being humiliating to the proud man, and to pay for it hurting the lover of money, they, when they met, joined in an act to diminish both these inconveniences, by depriving the poor of the right of voting, which certainly they were not empowered to do by the electors their constituents, the majority of whom were probably people of little property. The act was, therefore, not only unjust, but void. These lower people were, immediately afterwards, oppressed by another act, empowering the justices to fix the hire of day-laborers and their hours of work, and to send them to the house of correction if they refused to work for such lire; which was deposing them from their condition of freemen, and making them literally slaves.

But this was taking from many freemen a common right, and confirming it to a few. To give it back again to the many is a different operation. Of this the few have no just cause to complain, because they still retain the common right they always had, and they lose only the exclusive additional power which they ought never to have had. And if they used it, when they had it, as a means of obtaining money, they should in justice, were it practicable, be obliged to refund and distribute such money among those who had been so unjustly deprived of their right of voting, or forfeit it to the public.

Corporations, therefore, or boroughs, who, from being originally called to send deputies to Parliament, when it was considered merely as a duty, and not as a particular privilege, and therefore was never purchased by any equivalent service to the public, continue to send, now that by a change of times it affords them profit in bribes, or emoluments of various kinds, have in reality no right to such advantages; which are besides in effect prejudicial to the nation, some of those who buy thinking they may also sell. .

They should therefore, in justice, be immediately deprived of such pretended right, and reduced to the condition of common freemen.

But they are perhaps too strong, and their interest too weighty, to permit such justice to be done. And a regard for public good in these people, influencing a voluntary resignation, is not to be expected.

If that be the case, it may be necessary to submit to the power of present circumstances, passions, and prejudices, and purchase, since we can do no better, their consent; as men, when they cannot otherwise recover property unjustly detained from them, advertise a reward to whoever will restore it, promising that no questions shall be asked.



Paris, 17 June, 1785. SIR, I have received the honor of your letter of the 16th instant, accompanied with a paper, in which you have proved, by a short train of clear and satisfactory reasoning, that the elective franchise, now enjoyed by the small boroughs in England, is not an absolute right, which can only be forfeited on condition of misusage, but that it is a privilege conferred upon them in different periods of our history with partiality, and in a manner injurious to the common right of representation; and consequently, that it is a privilege justly resumable by the state, without the consent of such boroughs previously obtained, without any previous proof of their delinquency, or any compensation for their abolished franchise; at the same time, you have admitted the expediency, in the present state of our constitution, and under the various disadvantages attending an attempt to restore it, that a pecuniary offer should be proposed, as an inducement to the small boroughs to make a voluntary surrender of their obnoxious privilege.

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