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pretence of privilege, they would not, nay, they could not, oppose this bill.

I have waited with patience to hear what arguments might be urged against the bill; but I have waited in vain. The truth is, there is no argument that can weigh against it. The justice, and expediency, of this bill is such as renders it self evident. It is a proposition of that nature that can neither be weakened by argument, nor entangled with sophistry. Much, indeed, has been said by some noble lords on the wisdom of our ancestors, and how differently they thought from us. They not only decreed, that privilege should prevent all civil suits from proceeding during the sitting of parliament, but likewise granted protection to the very servants of members. I shall say nothing on the wisdom of our ancestors; it might perhaps appear invidious, and is not necessary in the present case. I shall only say, that the noble lords that flatter themselves with the weight of that reflection, should remember, that, as circumstances alter, things themselves should alter. Formerly it was not so fashionable either for masters or servants to run in debt as it is at present; nor formerly were merchants or manufacturers members of parliament, as at preThe case now is very different. Both merchants and manufacturers are, with great propriety, elected members of the lower house. Commerce having thus got into the legislative body of the kingdom, privilege must be done away. We all know that the very soul and essence of trade are regular payments: and sad experience teaches us, that there are men, who will not make their regular payments without the compulsive power of the laws. The law then ought to be equally open to all; any exemption to particular men, or particular ranks of men, is, in a free commercial country, a solecism of the grossest nature. But I will not trouble your lordships with arguments for that which is sufficiently evident without any. I shall only say a few words to some noble lords, who foresee much inconveniency from the persons of their servants being liable to be

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arrested. One noble lord observes, that the coach man of a peer may be arrested while he is driving his master to the house, and consequently he will not be able to attend his duty in parliament. If this was actually to happen, there are so many methods by which the member might still get to the house, I can hardly think the noble lord to be serious in his objec tion. Another noble lord said, that by this bill one might lose their most valuable and honest servants. This I hold to be a contradiction in terms: for he neither can be a valuable servant, nor an honest man, who gets into debt, which he neither is able nor willing to pay till compelled by law. If my servant, by unforeseen accidents, has got in debt, and I still wish to retain him, I certainly would pay the debt. But upon no principle of liberal legislation whatever, can my servant have a title to set his creditors at defiance; while, for forty shillings only, the honest tradesman may be torn from his family and locked up in gaol. It is monstrous injustice! I flatter myself, however, the determination of this day will entirely put an end to all such partial proceedings for the future, by passing into a law the bill now under your lordships'

consideration.

**

I now come to speak upon what, indeed, I would have gladly avoided, had I not been particularly pointed at for the part I have taken in this bill. It has been said by a noble lord on my left hand, that I likewise am running the race of popularity. If the noble lord means, by popularity, that applause bestowed by after ages on good and virtuous actions, I have long been struggling in that race, to what purpose all-trying time can alone determine; but, if the noble lord means that mushroom popularity which is raised without merit, and lost without a crime, he is much mistaken in his opinion. I defy the noble lord to point out a single action in my life where the popularity of the times ever had the smallest influence on my determinations. I thank God I have a more permanent and steady rule for my conduct-the dictates of my own breast. Those that have foregone

that pleasing adviser, and given up their mind to be the slave of every popular impulse, I sincerely pity; I pity them still more, if their vanity leads them to mistake the shouts of a mob for the trumpet of their fame. Experience might inform them that many, who have been saluted with the huzzas of a crowd one day, have received their execrations the next; and many who, by the popularity of their times, have been held up as spotless patriots, have nevertheless appeared upon the historian's page, when truth has triumphed over delusion, the assassins of liberty.Why, then, the noble lord can think I am ambitious of present popularity, that echo of folly and shadow of renown, I am at a loss to determine. Besides, I do not know that the bill now before your lordships will be popular; it depends much upon the caprice of the day. It may not be popular to compel people to pay their debts; and in that case the present must be an unpopular bill. It may not be popular neither to take away any of the privileges of parliament; for I very well remember, and many of your lordships may remember, that not long ago the popular cry was for the extension of privilege; and so far did they carry it at that time, that it was said that privilege protected members from criminal actions; nay, such was the power of popular prejudices over weak minds, that the very decisions of some of the courts were tinctured with that doctrine. It was undoubtedly an abominable doctrine. I thought so then, and think so still; but nevertheless it was a popular doctrine, and came immediately from those who were called the friends of liberty, how deservedly time will show. True liberty, in my opinion, can only exist when justice is equally administered to all, to the king, and to the beggar. Where is the justice, then, or where is the law, that protects a member of parliament more than any other man from the punishment due to his crimes? The laws of this country allow of no place nor no employment to be a sanctuary for crimes; and, where I have the honour to sit as judge,

neither royal favour nor popular applause shall ever protect the guilty.

I have now only to beg pardon for having employed so much of your lordships' time; and I am very sorry a bill, fraught with so good consequences, has not met with an abler advocate; but I doubt not your lordships' determination will convince the world that a bill, calculated to contribute so much to the equal distribution of justice as the present, requires, with your lordships, but very little support.

LORD CHESTERFIELD'S FIRST SPEECH

ON THE GIN ACT, FEBRUARY 21ST, 1743, AFTER THE SECOND READING OF THE BILL.

THE act of parliament of 1736, by which no person was permitted to sell spirituous liquors in less quantity than two gallons, without a license, for which 50l. were to be paid, having proved, from the difficulties attending its execution, ineffectual in checking the progress of drunkenness among the common people, a new bill was introduced into the house of commons and carried, laying a small duty on spirits per gallon, at the still head, and reducing also the price of licenses to twenty shillings.

During the debate on the bill, in the house of lords, the Earl of Chesterfield delivered two speeches, both of which we preserve. Leaving his powers of reasoning for more weighty discussions, he here employs to expose and to decry the silly tendency of the measure the pleasantry of wit, and the sportiveness of good humoured irony. These speeches have very great merit. They will be read with avidity by those who relish the sprightly sallies of genius, or who are emu'ous of a style of eloquence which though it may not always convince, will never fail to delight.

SPEECH, &c.

MY LORDS,

THE bill now under our consideration appears to me to deserve a much closer regard than seems to

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