L O N D O N :
Printed for T. BECKET, Corner of the Adelphi, in the Strand;
T. PAYNE, at the Mews Gate; J.ALMON, in Piccadilly; and
RICHARDSON & URQUHART, near the Royal Exchange.
IN time of security, when prosperity smiles upon the land, the eloquence of an angel would not be attended to; but, when Princes, to become sovereign matters, trample under foot, without shame or remorse, the most sacred rights of the people, attention is excited by the most minute object, and even the voice of a man so unsupported as myself may have effect upon the minds of the public.
If by collecting into one point of view under your eyes the villainous measures planned by Princes to attain absolute empire, and the dismal scenes ever attendant on despotism, I could inspire you with horror against tyranny, and revive in your breasts the holy name of liberty which burnt in those of your forefathers, I should esteem myself the most happy of men.
Gentlemen, the present parliament, by law, must soon expire; and no dissolution was evermore earnestly wished for by an injured people. Your most sacred rights have been flagrantly violated by your representatives, your remonstrances to the throne artfully rejected, yourselves treated like a handful of disaffected persons, and your complains silenced by pursuing the same conduct which raised them. Such is your condition, and if such it continues, the little liberty which is yet left you, must soon be extinguished: but the time for redress is now approaching, and it is in your power to obtain that justice you have so many times craved in vain.
As long as virtue reigns in the great council of the nation, the prerogative of the crown, and the rights of the subjects, are so tempered that they mutually support and restrain each other: but when honour and virtue are wanting in the senate, the balance is destroyed: the parliament, the strength and glory of Britain, becomes a profligate faction, which, partaking of the minister's bounty, and seeking to share with him the spoils of their country, joins those at the helm in their criminal designs, and supports their destructive measures, - a band of disguised traitors, who, under the name of guardians, traffic away the national interests, and the rights of a free-born people: the Prince then becomes absolute, and the people slaves.
- A truth of which we have unfortunately had but too often the sad experience.
On you alone, Gentlemen, depends the care of securing the freedom of parliament; and it is still in your power to revive that august assembly, which, in the last century, humbled the pride of a tyrant, and broke your fetters: but to effect this, how careful must you be in your choice of those into whose hands you shall trust your authority ?
Reject boldly all who attempt to buy your votes, they are but mercenary suitors, who covet only to enlarge their fortune at the expense of their honour, and the interest of their country.
Reject all who have any place at court, any employment in the disposal of the great officers of the crown, any commission which the King can improve. By men thus dependant, and of which the senate is chiefly composed at present, how can you hope to be represented with fidelity ?
Reject all who earnestly mendicate your voice, there is no good to be expected from that quarter. If they had nothing at heart but the honour of serving the public, do you imagine that they would submit to act such a disgraceful part ? Those humiliating intrigues are the transactions of vice, not of virtue. Merit indeed is fond of honourable distinctions; yet satisfied with proving worthy of them, it never debases itself to beg them, but waits till they are offered.
Reject men of pompous titles; among them there is little knowledge and less virtue: nay, what have they of nobility but the name, the luxuries and the vices of it ?
Reject the insolent opulent, in this class are not to be found the few virtues which are left to stock the nation.
Reject young men; no confidence is to be placed in them. Wholly given up to pleasure in this age of degeneracy; dissipation, amusements, and debauchery, are their only occupation , and, to support the expensive gaieties of the capital, they are ever ready to act with zeal in the interests of a minister. But supposing them not corrupt, they are but little acquainted with the national interest; besides, naturally incapable of long continued attention, they are impatient of restraint, they would have nothing to do, but to give their votes, and cannot attend to what they call the dry business of the house, and fulfil the duties of a good senator.
Select for your representatives men distinguished by their ability, integrity, and love for their country; men versed in the national affairs, men whom an independent fortune secures from the temptations of poverty, and a disdain of ruinous pageantry from the allurements of ambition ; men who have not been corrupted by the smiles of a court, men whose venerable mature age crowns a spotless life, men who have ever appeared zealous for the public cause, and have had in view only the welfare of their country, and the observance of the laws.
Confine not your choice to the candidates who offer themselves, invite men worthy of that trust, wise men who desire to be your representatives, but cannot dispute that honour with the rich without merit, who labour by bribes to force it out of your hands ; do it in such a manner, that for the pleasure of serving their country, they shall have no occasion to dread the ruin of their fortune; and scorn even to eat or drink at prostituted tables.
The utmost efforts will be exerted, as usual, by the ministry to influence your choice. Are the alluring baits of corruption to triumph over your virtue ? Is the British spirit so sunk that none durst scorn to receive a bribe ? When your great common interest ought to direct you, shall the selfish passions dare to raise their voice ? Arc they worthy to be indulged at such a price ? Behold the dismal scenes arising from neglect of national interest; behold your senators busy in making, altering, and amending acts for securing the property of their dogs, whilst half of the subjects, lingering in misery from the villainy of monopolizers, cry to them for bread ; behold your country bleeding at the feet of a minister of the wounds she has received.
Gentlemen, the whole nation cast their eyes upon you for redress ; but if your heart be shut to generous feelings, and justice to your fellow subjects cannot move you, let your own interest at least animate you.
To you is left a power to secure the liberty of the people, or enslave the nation; during the time you proceed to election you are, it may be termed, the arbiters of the state, and can teach those to tremble before you, who would make you tremble before them. Be made sensible of the importance of your functions; let honour raise its voice, and a becoming pride elevate your minds. How can the dignity of your office be united with the infamy of corruption ?
Most of the candidates are lavish of fawning caresses, and spare no baseness to gain you to their interests, but look upon you with disdain, from the instant they have extorted your votes. Resent such affront, reject their hypocritical courtesy, think on the insolent contempt which follows, and fix your choice upon men who are conscious of what they owe to their constituents.
Parliament under undue influence will do no act to promote the public welfare: Nay, those who have carried their election with money, not satisfied with neglecting your interest, treat you as a mercenary gang of slaves; eagerly seeking to be repaid any way, they traffic away your rights, and use the power you have trusted them with, to ruin you. Are the baits of corruption so attractive as not to be counterbalanced by the solid advantages tendered by virtue ? But what are the bribes taken for votes, to the losses suffered by a neglect of your interests, to the advantages you would reap from being represented with ability and fidelity ?
Besides what you owe to your country and yourselves, consider what you owe to posterity.
How careful were your ancestors, although with hazard of their lives, to transmit those rights as entire to their children as they had received them from their fathers. What they did with labour, you may do with ease; what they did with danger, you may do with safety. Will the holy flame of liberty which burnt in their breasts never burn in yours ? Will you disgrace the names of your forefathers ? Will you not shudder with horror at the idea of injuring your posterity ? Is the age of liberty passed away ? Shall your children, bathing their chains with tears, one day say: "These are the fruits of the venality of our fathers ?"
Gentlemen, With virtue and courage a people may ever maintain their liberty : but when once this inestimable treasure is lost, it is almost impossible to recover it, and it is very near being so, when electors set a price on their votes.