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the Lords, he could not discover by what rule of reason or law, they, who were only representatives, could enlarge, to their own advantage, the authority delegated to them; or, that by virtue of such delegated authority, they could destroy the fundamental rights of their constitution. The house possesses no legislative right but what it derives from the people. Their trustis, therefore, a triennial one, and if it is extended beyond the strict legal duration, they cease, from that moment, to be the trustees of the people, and become their own electors. From that instant they would assume an unwarrantable stretch of power, and take upon themselves to create a new constitution. Though it is a received maxim in civil science, that the supreme legislature cannot be bound, yet, an exception is necessarily implied, that it is restrained from subverting the foundation on which it stands. The Triennial Act, which restored the freedom and frequency of parliaments, was a concession made to the people by King William, in the midst of his difficulties. A standing parliament, which this bill went to establish, has been said to resemble a standing pool, the waters of which grow, for want of a fresh and free current, offensive and fetid; but the present parliament may be more justly compared to a torrent, which, in its furious and foaming course, desolates the land, bearing down all the land marks and ancient mounds which have been raised to confine it within its regular and accustomed banks. Not septennial, but annual, parliaments are derived from our ancient constitution, and every departure from its principles has been attended with inconvenience and injury. As one of the objects of this bill was to prevent animosities and divisions attending frequent elections, and which are chiefly of a private nature, and little affect the public, this bill has been found more calculated to inflame than to extinguish them. It is calculated, not to strengthen the hands of the executive powers, but to lessen its influence with foreign nations. Frequent parliaments are coeval with the constitution. In the reign of Edward the Third, it was enacted that parliaments should be holden every year once, and oftener if need he. Tais must be
understood of new parliaments, for pro
rogations and adjournments were then unknown. Every long interruption of parliament has been attended with mischief and inconvenience to the people. In the Declaration of Rights, at the revolution, it is asserted, as the undoubted right of the subject, that parliaments should be held frequently; and the preamble of the bill declares, “That by the ancient laws and statutes of the realm frequent parliaments ought to be held, and that frequent new parliaments tend very much to the happy union, and the good agreement of the king and his people.” To establish the sovereign in the hearts of his subjects, this is the most sure and effectual way. Such frequent appeals to the people generate confidence, and confidence is a great advance towards agreement and affection. But long parliaments are a violation of the liberty of the people. They engender distrust between the prince and his subjects, who are thereby deprived of the only remedy which they have against those who either do not understand, or through corruption wilfully betray the sacred trust reposed in them. And this remedy is, to choose better men in their places. The fate of this bill was predetermined, and passed by a majority of 264 against 121, although the whole body of the people had a right to protest against it, in behalf of themselves and their posterity. RIGHT OF WOTING.
With respect to the different cities, towns, and boroughs, they exercise a variety of separate and distinct privileges, scarcely capable of being classed in any methodical order, and still less of being ascertained by the application of any fixed principle. In the greater part of them, indeed, the right of voting appears to be vested in the freemen of bodies corporate ; but under this general term, an infinite diversity of peculiar customs is to be found. In some places, the number of votes is limited to a select body not exceeding ten ; in others, it is extended to eight or ten thousand. In some places, the sreeman must be a resi
dent inhabitant to entitle him to vote;
Oldfield's Representative History of Great-Britain, &c.
and may, according to peculiar usage, be obtained by birth, servitude, marriage, redemption, &c. &c. The remaining rights of voting are of a still more complicated description. Burgageholds, leaseholds, and freeholds, scot and lot inhabitants, householders, inhabitants at large, potwallopers, and commonalty, each in different boroughs prevail, and create endless misunderstandings and litigation. This arises from the difficulty which is daily found in defining and settling the legal import of those numerous distinctions which, in some places, commit the choice of two members to as many inhabitants as every house can contain ; in others, to the possessor of a spot of ground, where neither houses nor inhabitants have been seen for years; and which, in many instances have even baffled the wisdom of parliament to determine who are entitled to vote, or what constitutes their right. To restore the ancient right of election, as it was exercised in the tythings of the respective hundreds in each county by the householders in numerical divisions, would at once correct all the existing abuses, and establish a representation of the people perfectly fair and equal. It would extinguish all contentions about elective rights, and save millions of money wasted in expensive contests. The elective franchise ought to be common and personal; and, if not exercised by all, which, by the earliest writs of Edward the First, we find to have been the constitutional right of the people, the qualification should be so moderate, that there might be no condition in life in which it should not be in the power of every individual to acquire it by labour, by industry, or by talent. If, in the end, this should furnish an election, as we believe it would do, for the whole United Kingdom, by nearly a million and a half of heads of families, enough would be done to guard the rights of property on one hand, and to satisfy the national claims of personal representation on the other ; and, if a constituent power so formed, so extended, and so limited, be not sufficient to create a free and independent house of commons, the case is desperate; the object can never be obtained. By the re-establishment of the hun
dreds and tythings in each county, the system of representation may be renovated, and a reform obtained upon either of these principles. Such a number of the hundreds as would have a right to choose one member of parliament might be associated into a district for that purpose, and the poll be taken in each hundred before the constable on the same day and hour all over Great Britain and Ireland. All disputes about the right of voting would thus be removed ; every man would be known and recognized in his own hundred. All expense of carrying electors from one end of the kingdom to another to vote would be prevented ; and all the confusion, tumult, and riot attending the present mode of election would be avoided. No individual at present possessing the right of voting would be disqualified, and every. man having a claim to that privilege would be restored to it. By thus dividing the counties into single districts, the absurdity and inconvenience of choosing two persons, very often of opposite principles, to represent the same place, would likewise be avoided. Such agents, instead of uniting to serve their principles, can only be employed in counteracting each other, if they act at all, and finally leave their constituents, without an effective voice in parliament. Bedford.
This town is as independent as any in England. The Duke of Bedford and Mr. Whitbread possess an interest arising from great landed property, and deserved popularity, but not that arbitrary and unconstitutional command which is attached to the proprietor of a borough, or the owner of six or seven burgage tenures, conveyed on the morning of an election to a few select friends, or to the menial servants of the patron, which we shall be obliged to notice as they come under our review. The more dangerous influence of corruption has never pervaded this town.
WALLING FORD. This borough is not under the influence of a patron; but corruption has long obtained in it a systematic establishment. The price of a vote is forty guineas; and the character, or the political principles, of a candidate are never,
very severely scrutinized where such a
at the revolution, ever since the reign of
This borough is the sole property of Darlington, and the Duke of Leeds is in
Owen Williams, esq. of Temple, near this place, one of its present members, who purchased one moiety of it about twenty years since of the present Sir William Clayton, and the other of Sir John Borlase Warren. It is one of those many boroughs which can boast of no privilege except that of voting at the will of a superior. AMERSH.A.M. This borough, which includes in its limits no more than one half of the place which bears the above name, is wholly the property of Thomas Tyrrwhitt Drake, esq. of Shardeloes, near this place. Sir William Drake, bart, bought it of the Earl of Bedford in the reign of Charles II. It is one of those towns which admit of no opposition; for none can be made where no political will is enjoyed, and where the privilege of franchise is only the necessity of obedience. CHESTER. Although the number of electors is
above 1000, its representation has been
entirely at the disposal of Earl Grosvenor, whose family have possessed the same influence, except in one or two instances
danger of losing Helstone, as a bill has passed the House of Commons, and is now before the Lords, to extend the right of election to the hundred, in consequence of the corporation having, for many years, sold the representation to the highest bidder.
The county is as independent as any in England, and the gentlemen appear determined to keep it so.
This borough was the joint property of Lord Viscount Falmouth and Sir Francis Basset, between whom a strong contest for superiority arose at the general election in 1784. *
Since then, Sir Christopher Hawkins has purchased Sir Francis Basset's property. Sir Francis has been created a peer by the title of Lord De Dunstanville, and this wretched borough is 'become the joint property of Lord Falmouth and Sir Christopher Hawkins, or whom each sends a member.
At the general election, 1812, a petition of certain electors against the return of William Horne, esq. and Hugh Ham
der the nomination of his Grace. This being fully proved in evidence, a special
report of this corrupt practice was made
by the committee to the House of Commons, upon which a motion was made,
that the attorney-general be ordered to
prosecute his Grace George William Frederic, Duke of Leeds, for the said corrupt practices, which passed in the negative by a majority of three votes.
A bill was then brought into the House
of Commons to extend the right of voting for members of parliament for the borough of Helston, to the freeholders of the hundred in which it is situated ; this bill has passed unanimously three times through the House of Commons, but, by some unaccountable neglect, has been suffered to remain on the table of the House of Lords till the two last sessions were ended, and now lies before their lordships for enactment. - TREGON.Y.
This is an inconsiderable village, without trade, commerce, or manufacture. The elective influence was some time contested between Lord Falmouth and Sir Francis Basset, as were the boroughs of Mitchell and Truro; but the parties having agreed to send one member each for the former, Lord Falmouth, who was lord of the great part of the soil in this borough, sold his property, and with it transferred his interest to Sir Francis Basset, conditionally that Sir Francis should withdraw his opposition, and transfer his interest in Truro to his lordship. Matters being thus satisfactorily arranged, Sir Francis disposed of the whole to Mr. Barwell, the nabob, who afterwards sold it again to the Earl of Darlington.
To point out how this little body of nine self-appointed electors is acted upon is rather difficult. As eight of them belong to one family, it may easily be conceived how they keep the secret ; but, as it has been proved before the House
of Commons, that the Duchy Court was
once robbed by a candidate to bribe this 4N
borough, it is a proof they were not always immaculate. - - EAST AND WEST LOOE. The little boroughs of East and WestLooe are separated by a small creek of
the sea, over which there is a wooden
bridge. This place is called also Portpigham, by which name it is distinguished in holding courts. Neither of these places can boast of much antiquity, having no parish church belonging to either of them. In this wretched hamlet, called West Looe, alias Portpigham, there is not so much as a chapel, though the miserable hovel which is now, by way of derision, we suppose, called the guildhall, was said to have been a chapel, which seems likely, because the tower was lately standing. This contemptible hamlet, composed of a few fishermen's huts, has, like Mitchell, Bossinney, and St. Mawes, in this county, the privilege of sending to Parliament two members each. . GRAMPOUND.
This borough is part of the manor of Tybestre, belonging to the duchy of Cornwall, of which the corporation holds its charter on paying a fee-farm rent of 12l. 1 1s. 4d. per annum. It is in the true sense of the word a Cornish bo
rough, where the electors, who are forty
two in number, dispose of their suffrages as they are directed by their patron, without having the least knowledge of the representative they send to Parliament, his character, or qualification : nor is his name even communicated to these constituents, till the curtain is drawn up for the attorney to perform the farce of election. DERBY.
The mayor, aldermen, brothers, and capital burgesses, who form the cem: mon council, are all in the interest of the Duke of Devonshire, and Edward Coke, esq. who, from their consequence and fortune, possess also great influence in the borough. They attach their inter. est to their patrons by the exercise of that power which they assume of making honorary freemen, or, as they are most usually termed, in this and every other place, faggots. These are made from among such persons as have neither the claim of birth, servitude, or resi
'Man, MAs. No. 236.
dence. By virtue of this power the corporation can, at any time, create a number of freemen from among the Duke of Devonshire's tenants, and those of Mr. Coke, in various parts of the county, who will consequently out-number the legal freemen of the borough ; and these honorary freemen, who want no qualification but the fiat of the corporation, and the having been one whole year invested with their nominal franchise, agreeably to the letter of the Durham Act, are qualified to come into the town on the day of election, and to ease the inhabitant freemen of all the inconveniences of a contest, by choosing their members for them. PLYMoUTII. This town, together with Stonehouse and Plymouth Dock adjoining, contain a population of more than sixty thousand ; aud yet the number of voters do not exceed two hundred The right of voting in this borough was, on the 9th of June, 1660, resolved to be in the mayor and commonalty ; but, on the 17th of January, 1739, it was determined, that the word commonalty therein mentioned, extended only to the freemen of the said borough. OAKHAM PTO N. The right of election in this borough not having received any determination under the amended Grenville Act, is still open to litigation, and is disputed between the freemen and freeholders, particularly such as are called faggots. This borough was the property of the late Duke of Bedford, and the present Earl Spencer, who sold it to Richard Bateman Robson, esq. and his brother the late Mr. Holland the architect : it was by them again sold, we understand, for sixty thousand pounds, to Mr. Albany Saville, the present proprietor. - BARN STAPLE. If any one borough in the country is more corrupt than another, it is this. The expences of a candidate at a contested election here, is from ten to thirteen thousand pounds. The right of voting is in the corporation, and about four hundred burgesses, not more than a fourth part of whom reside in the town. The rest are distributed in London, Bristol, the East and West Indies, Botany Bay, and all over the world.
renders it uncertain, who shall ultimately have the preponderating interest at the next election; nor is it of any consequence, except to the parties interested, as the rights of the inhabitants of Totness are never considered. HONITON.
The members for this borough are generally strangers, who are sought out by individuals properly instructed, or recommended by the treasury. Previous to a vacancy, these dealers in corruption endeavour to find a candidate suited to their purpose, as rich and unexceptionable as possible, who, depositing a certain' sum of money, is sure of having every art and effort exerted in his favour. Thus bribery commences and continues in proportion to the activity of the agents of a third candidate.
The mode pursued is that of giving to each vote from five to fifty guineas, according to the emergency of the contest; and to their wives, meat, clothes, &c.; and also by opening inns, for which purpose a considerable number are permitted to exist. The number of votes influenced by these or other private consider