« 前へ次へ »
distinction, and showed that they were more willing than their predecessors to stand on a level with their fellow-subjects.
The new mode of trying elections, if it be found effectual, will diffuse its consequences further than seems yet to be foreseen. It is, I believe, generally considered as advantageous only to those who claim seats in parliament; but, if to choose representatives be one of the most valuable rights of Englishmen, every voter must consider that law as adding to his happiness, which makes his suffrage efficacious; since it was vain to choose, while the election could be controlled by any other power.
With what imperious contempt of ancient rights, and what audaciousness of arbitrary authority former parliaments have judged the disputes about elections, it is not necessary to relate. The claim of a candidate, and the right of electors, are said scarcely to have been, even in appearance, referred to conscience; but to have been decided by party, by passion, by prejudice, or by frolic. To have friends in the borough was of little use to him, who wanted friends in the house; a pretence was easily found to evade a majority, and the seat was at last his, that was chosen not by his electors, but his fellow-senators.
Thus the nation was insulted with a mock election, and the parliament was filled with spurious representatives; one of the most important claims, that of right to sit in the supreme council of the kingdom, was debated in jest, and no man could be confident of success from the justice of his cause.
A disputed election is now tried with the same scrúpulousness and solemnity, as any other title. The candidate that has deserved well of his neighbours, may now be certain of enjoying the effect of their appro
bation; and the elector, who has voted honestly for known merit, may be certain that he has not voted in vain.
Such was the parliament, which some of those, who are now aspiring to sit in another, have taught the rabble to consider as an unlawful convention of men, worthless, venal, and prostitute, slaves of the court, and tyrants of the people.
That the next house of commons may act upon the principles of the last, with more constancy and higher spirit, must be the wish of all who wish well to the public; and it is surely not too much to expect, that the nation will recover from its delusion, and unite in a general abhorrence of those who by deceiving the credulous with fictitious mischiefs, overbearing the weak by audacity of falsehood, by appealing to the judgment of ignorance, and flattering the vanity of meanness, by slandering honesty and insulting dignity, have gathered round them whatever the kingdom can supply of base, and gross, and profligate; and, raised by merit to this bad eminence, arrogate to themselves the name of PATRIOTS.
TAXATION NO TYRANNY;
THE RESOLUTIONS AND ADDRESS
N all the parts of human knowledge, whether terminating in science merely speculative, or operating upon life private or civil, are admitted some fundamental principles, or common axioms, which being generally received are little doubted, and being little doubted have been rarely proved.
Of these gratuitous and acknowledged truths it is often the fate to become less evident by endeavours to explain them, however necessary such endeavours may be made by the misapprehensions of absurdity, or the sophistries of interest. It is difficult to prove thể principles of science, because notions cannot always be found more intelligible than those which are ques. tioned. It is difficult to prove the principles of practice, because they have for the most part not been discovered by investigation, but obtruded by experience; and the demonstrator will find, after an operose deduction, that he has been trying to make that seen which can be only felt.
Of this kind is the position, that the supreme power of every community has the right of requiring from all its subjects, such contributions as are necessary to the public safety or public prosperity, which was considered by all mankind as comprising the primary and essential condition of all political society, till it became disputed by those zealots of anarchy, who have denied to the parliament of Britain the right of taxing the American colonies.
In favour of this exemption of the Americans from the authority of their lawful sovereign, and the dominion of their mother-country, very loud clamours have been raised, and many wild assertions advanced, which by such as borrow their opinions from the reigning fashion have been admitted as arguments; and what is strange, though their tendency is to lessen English honour, and English power, have been heard by English, men with a wish to find them true. Passion has in its first violence controlled interest, as the eddy for a while runs against the stream.
To be prejudiced is always to be weak; yet there are prejudices so near to laudable, that they have been often praised, and are always pardoned. To love their country has been considered as virtue in men, whose love could not be otherwise than blind, because their preference was made without a comparison; but it has never been my fortune to find, either in ancient or modern writers, any honourable mention of those, who have with equal blindness hated their country.
These antipatriotic prejudices are the abortions of foily impregnated by faction, which being produced against the standing order of nature, have not strength sufficient for long life. They are born only to scream
and perish, and leave those to contempt or detestation, whose kindness was employed to nurse them into mischief.
To perplex the opinion of the public many artifices have been used, which, as usually happens when falsehood is to be maintained by fraud, lose their force by counteracting one another.
The nation is sometimes to be mollified by a tender tale of men, who fled from tyranny to rocks and deserts, and is persuaded to lose all claims of justice, and all sense of dignity, in compassion for a harmless people, who having worked hard for bread in a wild country, and obtained by the slow progression of manual industry the accommodations of life, are now invaded by unprecedented oppression, and plundered of their properties by the harpies of taxation.
We are told how their industry is obstructed by unnatural restraints, and their trade confined by rigorous prohibitions; how they are forbidden to enjoy the products of their own soil, to manufacture the materials which nature spreads before them, or to carry their own goods to the nearest market: and surely the generosity of English virtue will never heap new weight upon those that are already overladen; will never delight in that dominion, which cannot be exercised but by cruelty and outrage.
But while we are melting in silent sorrow, and in the transports of delirious pity dropping both the sword and balance from our hands, another friend of the Americans thinks it better to awaken another passion, and tries to alarm our interest, or excite our veneration, by accounts of their greatness and their opulence, of the fertility of their land, and the splendour of their towns. We then begin to consider the question with more evenness of mind, are ready to conclude that