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having no other purpose in view than immediate profit, use all the arts of an European counting-house, to defraud the simple hunter of his furs.

These are some of the causes of our present weakness; our planters are always quarrelling with their governor, whom they consider as less to be trusted than the French; and our traders hourly alienate the Indians by their tricks and oppressions, and we continue every day to, shew by new proofs, that no people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous.

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THE

FALSE ALARM.

[1770.]

ONE of the chief advantages derived by the present generation from the improvement and diffusion of philosophy, is deliverance from unnecessary terrors, and exemption from false alarms.

The unusual appearances, whether regular or accidental, which once spread consternation over ages of ignorance, are now the recreations of inquisitive security. The sun is no more lamented when it is eclipsed, than when it sets; and meteors play their coruscations without prognostick or prediction.

The advancement of political knowledge may be expected to produce in time the like effects. Causeless discontent and seditious violence will grow less frequent, and less formidable, as the science of government is better ascertained, by a diligent study of the theory

It is not indeed to be expected, that physical and political truth should meet with equal acceptance, or gain ground upon the world with equal facility. The notions of the naturalist find mankind in a state of neutrality, or at worst have nothing to encounter but prejudice and vanity; prejudice without malignity, and vanity without interest. But the politician's improvements are opposed by every passion that can exclude conviction or suppress it; by ambition, by avarice, by hope, and by terror, by publick faction, and private animosity.

It is evident, whatever be the cause, that this nation, with all its renown for speculation and for learning, has

of man.

yet made little proficiency in civil wisdom. We are still so much unacquainted with our own state, and so unskilful in the pursuit of happiness, that we shudder with out danger, complain without grievances, and suffer our quiet to be disturbed, and our commerce to be interrupted, by an opposition to the government, raised only by interest, and supported only by clamour, which yet has so far prevailed upon ignorance and timidity, that many favour it as reasonable, and many dread it as powerful.

What is urged by those who have been so industrious to spread suspicion, and incite fury from one end of the kingdom to the other, may be known by perusing the papers

which have been at once presented as petitions to the king, and exhibited in print as remonstrances to the people. It may therefore not be improper to lay before the publick the reflections of a man who cannot favour the opposition, for he thinks it wicked, and cannot fear it, for he thinks it weak.

The grievance which has produced all this tempest of outrage, the oppression in which all other oppressions are included, the invasion which has left us no property, the alarm that suffers no patriot to sleep in quiet, is comprised in a vote of the House of Commons, by which the freeholders of Middlesex are deprived of a Briton's birthright, representation in parliament.

They have indeed received the usual writ of election, but that writ, alas ! was malicious mockery ; they were insulted with the form, but denied the reality, for there was one man excepted from their choice.

Non de vi, neque cæde, nec veneno,
Sed lis est mihi de tribus capellis.

The charaeter of the man thus fatally excepted, I have no purpose to delineate. Lampoon itself would disdain to speak ill of him of whom no man speaks well*. It is sufficient that he is expelled the House of

* The “ Life of Wilkes,” published by Almon, amply confirms shis severe allusion, which was at first thought unjustifiable.

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Commons, and confined in jail as being legally convicted of sedition and impiety.

That this man cannot be appointed one of the guar. dians and counsellors of the church and state, is a grievance not to be endured. Every lover of liberty stands doubtful of the fate of posterity, because the chief county in England cannot take its representative from a jail.

Whence Middlesex should obtain the right of being denominated the chief county, cannot easily be discovered; it is indeed the county where the chief city happens to stand; but how that city treated the favourite of Middlesex, is not yet forgotten. The county, as dis tinguished from the city, has no claim to particular consideration,

That a man was in jail for sedition and impiety, would, I believe, have been within memory a sufficient reason why he should not come out of jail a legislator. This reason, notwithstanding the mutability of fashion, happens still to operate on the House of Commons. Their notions, however strange, may be justified by a common observation, that few are mended by imprisonment, and that he whose crimes have made confinement necessary, seldom makes any other use of his enlargement, than to do with greater cunning what he did be tore with less.

But the people have been told, with great confidence, that the House cannot control the right of constituting representatives; that he who can persuade lawful electors to chuse him, whatever be his character, is lawfully chosen, and has a claim to a seat in parliament, from which no human authority can depose him.

Here, however, the patrons of opposition are in some perplexity. They are forced to confess, that, by a train of precedents sufficient to establish a custom of parliament, the House of Commons has jurisdiction over its own members; that the whole has power over individuals ; and that this power has been exercised sometimes in imprisonment, and often in expulsion.

That such power should reside in the House of Commons, in some cases, is inevitably necessary, since it is required, by every polity, that where there is a possi

bility of offence, there should be a possibility of punishment. A member of the House cannot be cited for his conduct in parliament before any other court; and, therefore, if the House cannot punish him, he may attack, with impunity, the rights of the people, and the title of the king

This exemption from the authority of other courts, was, I think, first established in favour of the five members in the long parliament. It is not to be considered as an usurpation, for it is implied in the principles of government. If legislative powers are not co-ordinate, they cease in part to be legislative; and if they be coordinate, they are unaccountable ; for to whom must that power account, which has no superior ?

The House of Commons is indeed dissoluble by the king, as the nation has of late been very clamorously told; but while it subsists it is co-ordinate with the other powers, and this co-ordination ceases only when the House, by dissolution, ceases to subsist.

As the particular representatives of the people are in their publick character above the control of the courts of law, they must be subject to the jurisdiction of the House; and as the House, in the exercise of its authority, can be neither directed nor restrained, its own resolutions must be its laws, at least, if there is no antecedent decision of the whole legislature.

This privilege, not confirmed by any written law or positive compact, but by the resistless power of political necessity, they have exercised, probably from their first institution, but certainly, as their records inform us, from the 23d of Elizabeth, when they expelled a member for derogating from their privileges.

It may perhaps be doubted, whether it was originally necessary, that this right of control and punishment should extend beyond offences in the exercise of parliamentary duty, since all other crimes are cognizable by other courts. But they who are the only judges of their own rights, have exerted the power of expulsion on other occasions, and, when wickedness arrived at a certain magnitude, have considered an offence against society as an offence against the House. They have, therefore, divested notorious delinquents

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