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sidered presently, when I come to examine the Old Whig's state of the case.
In a following paragraph, where the Remarker takes notice of what the PLEBEIAN urges on the side of the King and Commons, viz., “That an ill Minister might be skreened against them both, if this Law should take place, by reason that in such case he would know exactly his judges (who might likewise be his accomplices), and so act with impunity; the Remarker argues, That if this bill does not pass, an innocent Minister cannot be secure, nor a guilty one punished, if the Crown should add to the House of Peers a sufficient number of the enemies of the one, or of the friends of the other.” In either of which cases the utmost iniquity must be supposed in the Crown, which, I confess, I cannot bring myself to do, and therefore my argument remains entire. And it would grieve me to the heart, if I could think there were any innocent Ministers, who ought to be emboldened by the consciousness of their integrity, and yet should have greater apprehensions from honest actions, than have been hitherto shown by men of the most guilty consciences, through the many ages that this Constitution has subsisted, without the alteration now desired.
The Remarker thinks it wonderful how the PLEBEIAN could advance, “That the number of the House of Commons not being subject to an increase, is the only advantage that they enjoy distinct from the House of Lords; and alledges, that all their Lordships Privileges together are not equal to that one of commanding the purse of the community. Were it true, that the Commoners enjoyed this privilege of commanding the purse of the Community, distinct from the House of Lords, they would be very easy as to the increasing, or diminishing, or fixing their number, or as to any thing else that might belong to that Noble Assembly: But, alas! this is not the case ; for their Lordship’s concurrence is as necessary to a moneybill, as to any other bill : nay, whether a money-bill may not originally take its rise in their House, is a point never yet clearly given up by their Lordships, if I am not very much misinformed ; and whether they may not be more inclinable to dispute this matter, if ever their door comes to be shut in the manner now proposed, may deserve very serious reflection.
Thus having answered every objection made to the former PLEBEIAN by the Old Whig, except such as will occur in considering this argument, as he states it himself; I shall now proceed to that point which I proposed at first setting out.
I agree with our Author, “That the best kind of Government is that which is composed of these three branches, the Regal, the Noble, and the Plebeian." This is at present our happy Constitution : “But then," says this Author, “ we have one imperfection or defect in it, which wants to be remedied; and that is, the Crown has too great a power over one branch of this Constitution, namely, the Noble; in that the Crown can, whenever it pleases, add so many to their number as to influence their actions." And this Author likewise assures us, p. 4. “That the Crown has power enough also to gain a lIouse of Commons of what complexion it pleases." From whence I observe, first, That if it be a fault in the Constitution, that the Crown has so great power over one branch of the Constitution, the Noble, as this Author affirms, it is as great an imperfection that the Crown has so great a Power, as he also affirms it has, over the PLEBEIAN. And therefore this Author should have proposed some method to have remedied this defect in the latter, as well as in the former branch; or else that perfection in the Constitution, he seems to be desirous of, cannot be arrived at. He contends, that it is absolutely necessary the Lords should be entirely independent of the Crown. An impartial friend to the rokole body of the people, and to sound reason, would have said as much for the Commons. Then these two Estates would have been upon a level. But even by such an alteration, which is the only equal one, our Constitution would not be mended, but made much worse; for if both Lords and Commons were as independent of the Crown as this Author desires the Lords may be, the unhappy consequence that must ensue would be, that if any discord should arise betwixt them, and each remain inflexibly resolved, here the constitution would certainly want a casting power; and the only way of ending the dispute must be like a Polish Dyet, by getting up on horseback. And therefore this Power now in the Crown, and which has been in it for so many ages, is necessary for the good of the whole Community, to prevent the greatest confusion, which might otherwise arise from the passions of men.
The Crown once parted with this Power out of its hands to the Commons; and that concession produced the ruin of the Monarchy, and of the Peerage. If the Crown should part with the Power now to the Lords, that it has over them, why may it not be very reasonably apprehended, that the same fatal consequence may ensue to the King and the Commons ?
If it be necessary, as it has been plainly shewn, that the Power now in the Crown should remain there, for the good of the people in general; it is as necessary for the defence and advantage of the Crown itself. The Lords (by the Power the Crown has of adding to their number) are a fluctuating uncertain body. This is all that gives the Crown any influence over them, and prevents combinations, cabals, and factions against the Crown. But if the door comes once to be shut, so that the Crown cannot make any considerable addition to their number in any exigencies whatever, what a door is opened at the same time to form a Power superior to that of the Crown, and superior to all human controul! Then they will become a fixed certain body: and should three or four ambitious bold men combine together hereafter, of the greatest families, and the greatest estates, where would the difficulty be of getting a majority of two hundred thirtyfivel and, if once obtained, what remedy could be provided in so desperate a case? ! ilst they act in the common methods of government, they would command all favours; and, should they ever act in an arbitrary manner, necessity and self-defence would make the union amongst them the stronger.
I will now examine what the Author of the Old Whig calls the Great Point, and which ought to carry the chief weight with us in this case; which is, “That the Alteration now proposed will give such a mighty Power to the bulk of the English Commons, as can never be counterbalanced by the body of the Nobility. Should we suppose two hundred thirty-five Peers possessed one with another of 50001. per annum, this would amount to no more than 1,175,0001. per annum. And what is such a property, and the Power arising out of it, compared with the Power arising out of the property of those many millions possessed by the Commons ?"
By this state of the case, we are to suppose on the one hand a certain, limited, fixed, hereditary body, of two hundred thirty-five Peers, enjoying great privileges above the Commons, and possessed of an annual revenue amounting to 1,175,0001. which they bave entirely in their own power; and this estate not so equally divided as 5000l. per annum to every individual, but to some the command of 50,0001. a year apiece, others not 5001. a year. On the other hand, you must suppose a body of above twice the number fluctuating, unfixed, in the power of their Prince every moment, at furthest not able to subsist above a few years, and possessed of not near half the estate before-mentioned; is it not too evident which of these two bodies must destroy the other, if once this should come to be really the case? The Lords are Principals, and act entirely for themselves : the Commoners are no farther Principals than as to the estates they possess themselves. As our Author has stated this matter, in order to magnify the power of the wealth of the Commons, though he is all along speaking of the aggregate body, yet he would insinuate as if they had as great command over the universal Body of the People, as the Lords have over themselves. This is as much as to say, that the four Members of the city of London have as absolute command over the estates of all the inhabitants of that great Metropolis, as any four Lords have over their tenants. Indeed, if the Commons had a Power of laying taxes upon the estates of all those they represent, that would be the same thing in this case, provided they had it abstractedly from the Lords. But this fallacy, which is often insinuated in this Pamphlet, has been already detected. The Commons have no more power over their fellow subjects estates than the Lords: they cannot lay any tax without their Lordships concurrence. And all that is peculiar to the Commons in this matter is, that they have hitherto been allowed to chuse what tax they judged easiest for the people: but every day's experience shews us, that, if the Lords differ in opinion from the Commons, their power is at an end. The better to illustrate this Great Point, as our Author properly calls it; as he has computed the value of the wealth of the body of Peers, I will take the liberty to compute the value of the wealth of the body of the Commons. Supposing them to be worth, one with another, 8001. per annum including personal estates, which I am certain is not disparaging this, or any other House of Commons that has sat in a British Parliament; the annual income of five hundred fiftyeight Commoners will amount to 446,4001. ; which is so insignificant u sum, in proportion to the value of the property of the Lords, that I will beg leave to compute his Majesty's whole Civil List with the property of the Commons, both sums together making but one million forty-six thousand four hundred pounds; and there will still remain a balance on their Lordships' side of one hundred twenty-eight thousand six hundred pounds per anzum. Therefore, if it is an uncontested maxim, That Power follows property, p. 295; here is Power, here is Property; and let the body that possesses both in such a degree be but once made so independent as is proposed, would not the Crown, would not the Commons, be absolutely under the Dominion of the Lords, according to this Author's own way of reasoning ?
I am satisfied the controversy is ended here: but I will suppose my Author not to have been mistaken so very grossly, and examine his argument upon an imagination that the property of the House of Commons was ten times superior to that of Lords, whereas the property of the Lords is near three times as much as theirs; yet, even in this case, the Lords would have the advantage of them; because an united constant body of men, always acting for the same interest and grandeur, and pursuing a continued scheme, must be an over-match for so transitory a body, and made up of persons of such different views and interests as the House of Commons is. To bring an example on this head. Let us imagine the stoek of the Bank of England to be of the value of one million, and the stock or cash of all the Bankers, Scriveners, Goldsmiths, and dealers in Money throughout London, to be four times or eight times that sum; is there any body who does not believe the Bank, incorporated and well compacted in all respects for its own private interest, will not have a greater Power, greater credit and authority, than all those particular Proprietors of a much larger capital, who cannot possibly be ever put into any posture, so as to act with that weight for their interest, as the Bank will do for itself in the circumstances above-mentioned? The great Power of all such fixed bodies is chiefly owing to this circumstance, that two or three persons always govern the rest; and it is as well the common interest of the society that they should be so governed, as the particular interest of the governors. In this their strength chiefly consists; and for this reason five or six hundred Lords (if any body can be so wild as to suppose the Crown will ever increase their number to such a degree) will not be so terrible to the Crown or the People, as two hundred thirty-five, or any such fixed number. For to .suppose that the majority of two hundred
thirty-five Lords, were they so fixed, would not be entirely directed and influenced by three or four amongst them of the greatest wealth, abilities, and resolution, is as absurd and improbable to common reason and constant experience, as any thing that can be thought of.
If it be allowed then, as it certainly must be, that the weight of so great Power, and of such disproportionable Property, may by this means come into a very few hands; what havock may it not make of the dignity of the Crown, and of the liberty of the People?
Thus I have shewn the certain destructive consequences of this project, · as stated by the PLEBEIAN, and even as stated by the OLD Whig himself. I must confess, I do not believe that the Authors of this scheme were apprehensive how far it would go; but since it is now so plain, that he who runs may read, I hope they themselves will desist from so desperate an undertaking.
I cannot help observing, that his Majesty is treated with great indignity by the Author before me, in several passages of his pamphlet. In one place he says, “Whilst the door of the House of Lords is always open, people of overflowing fortunes may find no great difficulty in procuring an entrance." In another, he insinuates, that “there is another kind of merit besides what arises from virtuous actions, learning, and industry, that has been often rewarded with Peerage." I am satisfied his Majesty has used this prerogative, as he has done every other prerogative of the Crown, with the greatest discernment, and therefore I am willing to trust it still in his hands. The House of Lords is treated by this Author still more en cavalier than his Majesty. His Words are these: "If the English Commonalty should (by this Bill) gain only this single advantage, I think it a very considerable one, that it will hinder the nation from being overrun with Lords. We know, that in the sale of an estate it is no small recommendation to the buyer, that there is no Lord within so many miles of it; and the distance of such a borderer is often looked upon as an equivalent to a year's purchase. But who can be secure from such a neighbour, whilst the species is so apt to increase and multiply? I shall not insist upon paying of debts, which is looked upon as a moral duty amongst Commoners, who cannot but be sorry to see any additions to an order of men that are sheltered by privileges from the demands of their honest and industrious creditors. To which many considerations of the like nature might be added, were they not obvious to the private reflection of every reader.”
I cannot very well aecount for it, how this Author comes to take so great a liberty as he has done here; even so far, as to endeavour to make it believed that the Lords are sheltered from their just debts; whereas every one knows, a Lord's goods and effects are liable to the pursuit of his creditors, though his person is always protected. This Author and I differ on every account, as to what relates to this branch of the Legisla