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and delusive state of the Company's affairs, fabricated to mislead parliament, and to impose upon the nation. *

"Your Commons feel, with a just resentment, the inadequate estimate which your ministers have formed of the importance of this great concern. They call on us to act upon the principles of those who have not inquired into the subject; and to condemn those who, with the most laudable diligence, have examined and scrutinized every part of it. The deliberations of parliament have been broken; the season of the year is unfavourable: many of us are new members, who must be wholly unacquainted with the subject, which lies remote from the ordinary course of general information.

"We are cautioned against an infringement of the constitution; and it is impossible to know what the secret advisers of the crown, who have driven out the late ministers for their conduct in parliament, and have dissolved the late parliament for a pretended attack upon prerogative, will consider as such an infringement. We are not furnished with a rule, the observance of which can make us safe from the resentment of the crown, even by an implicit obedience to the dictates of the ministers who have advised that speech; we know not how soon those ministers may be disavowed, and how soon the members of this House, for our very agreement with them, may be considered as objects of his majesty's displeasure. Until by his majesty's goodness and wisdom the late example is completely done away, we are not free.

"We are well aware, in providing for the affairs of the East, with what an adult strength of abuse, and of wealth

* The purpose of the misrepresentation being now completely answered, there is no doubt but the committee in this parliament, appointed by the ministers themselves, will justify the grounds upon which the last parliament proceeded; and will lay open to the world the dreadful state of the Company's affairs, and the grossness of their own calumnies upon this head. By delay the new assembly is come into the disgraceful situation of allowing a dividend of eight per cent, by act of parliament, without the least matter before them to justify the granting of any dividend at all.

and influence growing out of that abuse, his majesty's Commons had, in the last parliament, and we still have to struggle. We are sensible that the influence of that wealth, in a much larger degree and measure than at any former period, may have penetrated into the very quarter from whence alone any real information can be expected.*

"If, therefore, in the arduous affairs recommended to us, our proceedings should be ill adapted, feeble, and ineffectual; if no delinquency should be prevented, and no delinquent should be called to account: if every person should be caressed, promoted, and raised in power, in proportion to the enormity of his offences; if no relief should be given to any of the natives unjustly dispossessed of their rights, jurisdictions, and properties; if no cruel and unjust exactions shall be forborne; if the source of no peculation or oppressive gain should be cut off; if, by the omission of the opportunities that were in our hands, our Indian empire should fall into ruin irretrievable, and

This will be evident to those who consider the number and description of directors and servants of the East India Company, chosen into the present parliament. The light in which the present ministers hold the labours of the House of Commons, in searching into the disorders in the Indian administration, and all its endeavours for the reformation of the government there, without any distinction of times, or of the persons concerned, will appear from the following extract from a speech of the present Lord Chancellor (Thurlow). After making a high-flown panegyric on those whom the House of Commons had condemned by their resolutions, he said—“Let us not be misled by reports from committees of another House, to which, I again repeat, I pay as much attention as I would do to the history of Robinson Crusoe. Let the conduct of the East India Company be fairly and fully inquired into; let it be acquitted or condemned by evidence brought to the bar of the House. Without entering very deep into the subject, let me reply in a few words to an observation which fell from a noble and learned lord, that the Company's finances are distressed, and that they owe at this moment a million sterling to the nation. When such a charge is brought, will parliament in its justice forget that the Company is restricted from employing that credit which its great and flourishing situation gives to it ?" See New Parliamentary History, vol. xxiv, p. 124.

in its fall crush the credit, and overwhelm the revenues of this country, we stand acquitted to our honour, and to our conscience, who have reluctantly seen the weightiest interests of our country, at times the most critical to its dignity and safety, rendered the sport of the inconsiderate and unmeasured ambition of individuals, and by that means the wisdom of his majesty's government degraded in the public estimation, and the policy and character of this renowned nation rendered contemptible in the eyes of all Europe."

Mr. William Windham seconded the motion; which was negatived without a division.


June 16.


HIS day Mr. Alderman Sawbridge moved, "That a com mittee be appointed to take into consideration the present state of the representation of the Commons of Great Britain in parliament." The motion was supported by Mr. Alderman Newnham, the Earl of Surrey, Sir E. Astley, Mr. Beaufoy, Mr. Pitt, Mr. Fox, Mr. Burgoyne, Mr. Sheridan, and others; and opposed by Lord North, Mr. Dundas, Mr. Burke, Mr. W. W. Grenville, and Lord Mulgrave. As soon as Mr. Fox sat down, there was a violent clamour for the question, and the gallery was cleared of strangers. Mr. Burke with a great deal of difficulty obtained a hearing. The following imperfect report of what he said upon this occasion, was found among his MS. papers:

Mr. BURKE rose and said:

Mr. Speaker; we have now discovered, at the close of the eighteenth century, that the constitution of England, which for a series of ages had been the proud distinction


of this country, always the admiration, and sometimes the
envy of the wise and learned in every other nation,
have discovered that this boasted constitution, in the most
boasted part of it, is a gross imposition upon the under-
standing of mankind, an insult to their feelings, and
acting by contrivances destructive to the best and most
valuable interests of the people. Our political architects
have taken a survey of the fabric of the British consti-
tution. It is singular, that they report nothing against
the crown, nothing against the Lords; but in the House
of Commons every thing is unsound; it is ruinous in every
part. It is infested by the dry rot, and ready to tumble
about our ears without their immediate help. You know
by the faults they find, what are their ideas of the alter-
ation. As all government stands upon opinion, they know
that the way utterly to destroy it is to remove that opinion,
to take away all reverence, all confidence from it; and then,
at the first blast of public discontent and popular tumult,
it tumbles to the ground.

In considering this question, they, who oppose it, oppose it on different grounds; one is, in the nature of a previous question; that some alterations may be expedient, but that this is not the time for making them. The other is, that no essential alterations are at all wanting: and that neither now, nor at any time, is it prudent or safe to be meddling with the fundamental principles, and ancient tried usages of our constitution that our representation is as nearly perfect as the necessary imperfection of human affairs and of human creatures will suffer it to be; and that it is a subject of prudent and honest use and thankful enjoyment, and not of captious criticism and rash experiment.

On the other side, there are two parties, who proceed on two grounds, in my opinion, as they state them, utterly irreconcileable. The one is juridical, the other political. The one is in the nature of a claim of right, on the supposed rights of man as man; this party desire the decision of a suit. The other ground, as far as I can divine what it directly means, is, that the representation is not so poli


tically framed as to answer the theory of its institution. As to the claim of right, the meanest petitioner, the most gross and ignorant, is as good as the best; in some respects his claim is more favourable on account of his ignorance; his weakness, his poverty, and distress, only add to his titles; he sues in formá pauperis; he ought to be a favourite of the court. But when the other ground is taken, when the question is political, when a new constitution is to be made on a sound theory of government, then the presumptuous pride of didactic ignorance is to be excluded from the counsel in this high and arduous matter, which often bids defiance to the experience of the wisest. The first claims a personal representation, the latter rejects it with scorn and fervour. The language of the first party is plain and intelligible; they, who plead an absolute right, cannot be satisfied with any thing short of personal representation, because all natural rights must be the rights of individuals; as by nature there is no such thing as politic or corporate personality; all these ideas are mere fictions of law, they are creatures of voluntary institution; men as men are indi viduals, and nothing else. They, therefore, who reject the principle of natural and personal representation, are essentially and eternally at variance with those who claim it. As to the first sort of reformers, it is ridiculous to talk to them of the British constitution upon any or upon all of its bases; for they lay it down, that every man ought to govern himself, and that where he cannot go himself he must send his representative; that all other government is usurpation, and is so far from having a claim to our obedience, it is not only our right, but our duty, to resist it. Nine tenths of the reformers argue thus, that is, on the natural right. It is impossible not to make some reflection on the nature of this claim, or avoid a comparison between the extent of the principle and the present object of the demand. If this claim be founded, it is clear to what it goes. The House of Commons, in that light, undoubtedly is no representative of. the people as a collection of individuals. Nobody pretends it, nobody can justify such an assertion. When you come to

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