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of the constitution, and it would not be innovation, as he had said, but recovery of the constitution, to remove them : gentlemen were ready to acknowledge the truth of this; but they stopped from the difficulty of accomplishing the necessary reform. Many propositions had been made from different quarters towards this great national object. In particular it had been said, that the purity and independence of Parliament would be the most easily accomplished, and the most effectually, by annihilating the corrupt influence of the crown. This he was ready to acknowledge as a great, and powerful means of restoring independency and respect to Parliament; and he was happy to see, that under the present ministry the corrupt influence of the crown would not be exerted. It might therefore be said with truth, that now the injurious, corrupt, and baneful influence of the crown was no more. Its effect would not be felt during the ministry of a set of men who were the friends of constitutional freedom. But it was the duty of Parliament to provide for the future, and to take care that in no time this secret and dark system should be revived, to contaminate the fair, and honorable fabric of our government. This influence was of the most pernicious kind; and at all times had been pointed to as the fertile source of all our miseries. It had been substituted in the room of wisdom, of activity, of exertion, and of success. It was but too naturally connected with the extensive limits of our empire, and with the broad and great scale upon which its operations were conducted. It had been truly said of this corrupt influence, · That it had grown with our growth, and strengthened with our strength.' Unhappily, however, for this country, it had not decayed with our decay, nor diminished with our decrease. It bore no sympathy, nor connection with our falling state ; but notwithstanding the mad
; impolicy of a ministry who had contracted the limits of the empire, this corrupt influence was still found to exist in all its strength, and had supported that ministry for a length of years, against all the consequences of a mis'chievous system and a desolated empire. He thanked Heaven, that we had now an administration who placed their dependence on a more honorable basis, and who conceived nothing to be more necessary or esssential to the permanent interests of their country, than the total overthrow and extinction of this influence.
It had been thought by some, that the best means of effecting a more near relation between the representatives and the people was to take from the decayed and corrupt boroughs a part of their members, and add them to those places which had most interest and stake in the country, Another mode of making the connection between the representative and constitution more lively and intimate, was to bring the former more frequently before the electors by shortening the duration of Parliament. But all these propositions he would beg leave, for the present, to omit entirely; and to deliver the matter to the committee to be chosen, free from all suggestions whatever, that they might exercise their own judgment, and collect from the lights, which they would receive, full and complete information on the subject. He would therefore content himself with saying, that having mentioned the manner in which he would take the liberty of proposing to institute this inquiry, he hoped that he should be forgiven for undertaking this important business. The matter of complaint was clear to him; and he was strengthened in his opinion from the advice of some of the first and greatest characters in the kingdom. The assistance which he had received, he acknowledged with gratitude, as it fortified his mind in regard to the opinions which he had formed on the subject. It was also the opinion of many respectable characters, now no more, and particularly of one (Lord CHATHAM), of whom every member in the House could speak with more freedom than himself. That person was not apt to induige vague and chimerical speculations, in. consistent with practice and expediency. He personally knew, that it was the opinion of this person, that, without recurring to first principles in this respect, and establishing a more solid and equal representation of the people by which the proper constitutional connection should be revived, this nation, with the best capacities for grandeur and happiness of any on the face of the earth, must be confounded with the mass of those whose liberties were lost in the corruption of the people. With regard to the time, at which he had brought it on, he was convinced that it was the most proper and seasonable moment that could be imagined. If it had been brought forward during an eager opposition to the measures of government it might have been considered as the object of spite or peevishness; and if under such circumstances they had prevailed, it would have been said to be carried by assault. But now there was no division of sentiment. His Majesty's ministers expected the voice of the people, and were anxiously bent on the reformation of Parliament. If there was any division of opinion at all it was about the means of accomplishing the object.
He concluded with moving, “ that a committee be appointed to inquire into the state of the representation in parliament, and to report to the house their observations thereon."
The proposed inquiry having been negatived, Mr. PITT, on the 7th of May following, submitted to the House a specific plan of reform for adding one hundred members to the counties, and abolishing a proportionable number of the burgage-tenure, and other small and obnoxious boroughs. Upon rising to open the business, he declared, that in his life he had never felt more embarrassment, or more anxiety, than he felt at that moment, when for his country's good, he found himself obliged to discover, and lay before the House, the imperfections of that constitu
tion to which every Englishman ought to look up with reverential awe; a constitution which, while it continued such as framed by our ancestors, was truly called the production of the most consummate wisdom : raised by that constitution to greatness and to glory, England had been at once the envy and the pride of the world. Europe, was taught by experience that liberty was the foundation of true greatness; and that while England remained under a government perfectly free, she never failed to perform exploits that dazzled the neighbouring nations. To him, he did assure the House, it was interesting, indeed interesting and useful beyond the power of description. He
vished, however, the House to view the arduous and very difficult task he had ventured to undertake, in its true light. No man saw that glorious fabric, the constitution of this country, with more admiration, nor with more reverence than himself: he beheld it with wonder, with veneration, and with gratitude : it gave an Englishman such dear and valuable privileges, or, he might say, such advantageous and dignified prerogatives, as were not only beyond the reach of the subjects of every other nation, but it afforded us a degree of happiness unknown to those who lived under governments of a nature less pregnant with principles of liberty : indeed there was no form of government on the known surface of the globe, that was so nearly allied to perfect freedom. melancholy series of events, which could be accounted for only upon this principle, that, during the last fifteen years, there had been a deviation from the principles of that happy constitution, under which the people of England had so long flourished.
Mr. Pitt reminded the House how and upon what reasons the public had begun to look at the state of parliamentary representation ; of the steps they had taken to procure some remedy for the inadequacy which they discovered ; ihe degree of success that their endeavours had
not met with ; and what it was that particularly occasioned him to rise at that moment in support of their petitions. He said to put the House in possession of all these circumstances, he need only advert to the history of a few years recently past; a history which he would touch upon was shortly as possible, because it was not only a most melancholy picture of calamitous and disgraceful events, but because it was so extremely difficult to mention it in any shape, that would not appear invidious, and personal. He then stated, that the disastrous consequences of the American war, the immense expenditure of the public money; the consequent heavy burthen of taxes, and the pressure of all the collateral difficulties produced by the foregoing circumstances, gradually disgusted the people ; and at last provoked them to turn their eyes inward on themselves, in order to see if there was not something radically wrong at home, that was the chief cause of all the evils they felt from their misfortunes abroad. Searching for the internal sources of their foreign fatalities, they naturally turned their attention to the constitution under which they lived, and to the practice of it. Upon looking to that House, they found that by length of time, by the origin and progress of undue influence, and from other causes, the spirit of liberty, and the powers of check and control upon the crown and executive government, were greatly lessened, and debilitated. Hence clamors sprung up without doors, and hence, as was perfectly natural in the moment of anxiety, to procure an adequate and a fit remedy to a practical grievance, a spirit of speculation went forth, and a variety of schemes founded in visionary and impracticable ideas of reform, were suddenly produced. It was not for him, he said, with unhallowed hands to touch the venerable pile of the constitution, and to deface the fabric ; to see it stand in need of repair was sufficiently melancholy; but the more he revered it, the more he wished to secure its duration to the latest posterity ; the greater he felt the