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They, I doubt not, oppose the bill upon public principles : I would not wish to insinuate, that private interest had the least weight in their determination.
5 The bill has been frequently proposed, and as frequently las miscarried: but it was always lost in the lower house. Little did I think, when it had passed the Commons, that it possibly could have met with such opposition here. Shall it be said, that you, my lords, the grand council of the nation, the highest judicial and legislative body of the realm, endeayour to evade, by privilege, those very laws which you enforce on your fellow subjects? Forbid it justice! I am sure were the noble lords as well acquainted as I am, with bu: half the difficulties and delays occasioned in the courts of justice, under pretence of privilege, they would not, nay, they could not, oppose this bill.
6 I have waited with patience to hear what arguments might be urged against this bill; but I have waited in vain : the truth is, there is no argument that can weigh against it. The justice and expediency of the bill, are such as render it self-evident. It is a proposition of that nature, which can neither be weakened by argument, nur entangled with sophistry. Much, indeed, has been said by some noble lords, on the wisdom of our ancestors, and how differently they thought from us. They not only decreed, that privilege should prevent all civil suits from proceeding during the sitting of parliament, but likewise granted protection to the very servants of members. I shall say nothing on the wisdom of our ancestors; it might perhaps appear invidious: that is not necessary in the present case.
7 I shall only say, that the noble lords who flatter themselves with the weight of that reflection, should remember, that as circumstances alter, things themselves should alter. Formerly, it was not so fashionable either for masters or servants to run in debt, as it is at present. Formerly, we were not that great cominercial nation we are at present; nor torinerly were merchants and manufacturers members of parliament as at present. The case is now very different : both merchants and manuiacturers are, with great propriety, elected members of the lower house.
8 Commerce haring this got into the legislative body of the kingdom, privilege must be done away. We all know, that the very soul and essence of trade, are regular payments; and sad experience teaches us, that there are men, who will not make their regular payments without the compulsive power of the laws. The law then ought to be equally open to all.
Any exemption to particular men, or particular ranks of men, is, in a free and commercial county, a solecism of the grossest nature.
9 But I will not trouble vour lordships with arguments for that, which is sufficiently evident without any, I shall only say a few words to some noble lords, who foresee much in. convenieace, from the persons of their servants being liable to be arrested. One noble lord observes, That the coachman of a peer may be arrested, while he is driving his master to the House, and that, consequently, he will not be able to attend his duty in parliament. If this were actually to happen, there are so many methods by which the member might still get to the House, that I can hardly think the noble lord is serious in his objection.
10 Another noble peer said, That, by this bill, one might lose his most valuable and honest servants. This I hold to be a contradiction in terms: for he can neither be a valuable servant, nor an honest man, who gets into debt, which he is neither able nor willing to pay, till compelled by the law. If my servant, by unforeseen accidents, has got into debt, and I still wish to retain him, I certainly would pay the demand. But upon no principle of liberal legislation whatev. er, can my servant have a title to set his creditors at defiance, while, for forty shillings only, the honest tradesman may be torn from his family, and locked up in a gaol. It is monstrous injustice! I flatter myself, however, the determination of this day, will entirely put an end to all these partial proceedings for the future, by passing into a law the bill now under your lordships' consideration.
11 1 now come to speak upon what, indeed, I would have gladly avoided, had I not been particularly pointed at, for the part I have taken in this bill. It has been said, by a noble lord on my left hand, that I likewise am running the race of popularity. If the noble lord means by popularity, that applause bestowed by after-ages on good and virtuous actions, I have long been struggling in that race: to what purpose, all-trying time can alone determine.
12 But if the noble lord means that mushroom popularity, which is raised without merit, and lost without a crime, he is much mistaken in his opinion. I defy the noble lord to point out a single action of my life, in which the popularity of the times ever had the smallest influence on my determiLations. I thank God, I have a more permanent and steady rule for my conduct, the dictates of my own breast.
13 Those who have foregone that pleasing adviser, and given up their mind to be the slave of every popular impulsé, I sin
cerely pity: I pity them still more, if their vanity leads them to mistake the shouts of a mob for the trumpet' of fame.Experience might inform them, that many, who have been saluted with the huzzas of a crowd one day, have received their execrations the next; and many, who, by the popularity of their times, have been held up as spotless patriots, have, nevertheless, appeared upon the historian's page, when truth has triumphed over delusion, the assassins of liberty.
14 Why then the noble lord can think I am ambitious of present popularity, that echo of folly, and shadow of renown, I am at a loss to determine. Besides, I do not knɔw that the bill now before your lordships, will be popular: it depends much upon the caprice of the day. It may not be popular to compel people to pay their debts; and, in that case, the present must be a very unpopular bill.
15 It may not be popular either to take away any of the privileges of parliament; for I very well remember, and many of your lordships may remember, that, not long ago, the popular cry was for the extension of privilege; and so far did they carry it at that time, that it was said, the privilege protected members even in criminal actions; nay, such was the power of popular prejudices over weak minds, that the very decision of some of the courts, were tinctured with that doctrine. It was undoubtedly an abominable doctrine. I thought so then, and I think so still: but, nevertheless, it
was a popular doctrine, and came immediately from those | who are called the friends of liberty ; how deservedly, time will show.
16 True liberty, in my opinion, can only exist when jnstice is equally administered to all; to the king and to tbe beggar. Where is the justice then, or where is the law, that protects a member of parliament, more than any other man, from the punishment due to his crimes? The laws of this country allow of no place, nor any employment, to be a sanctuary for crimes; and where I have the honour to sit as judge, neither royal favour, nor popular applause, shall protect the guilty.
17 I have now only to beg pardon for having employed so much of your lordships' time ; and am sorry a bill, fraught with so many gond consequences, has not met with an abler alvocate : but I doubt not your lordships' determination will convince the world, that a bill, calculated to contribute so much to the equal distribution of justice as the present, requires with your lordships but very little support.
An address to young persons. I INTEND, in this address, to show you the importance of beginning early to give serious attention to your conduct. As soon as you are capable of reflection, you must perceive that there is a right and a wrong in human actions. You see, that those who are born with the same advantages of fortune, are not all equally prosperous in the course of life. While some of them, by wise and steady conduct, attain distinction in the world, and pass their days with comfort and honour; others, of the same rank, by mean and vicious behaviour, forfeit the advantages of their birth; involve themselves in much misery; and end in being a disgrace to their friends, and a burden on society.
2 Early, then, may you learn, that it is not on the external condition in which you find yourselves placed, but on the part which you are to act, that your welfare or unhappiness, your honour or infamy, depends. Now, when beginning to act that part, what can be of greater moment, than to regulate your plan of conduct with the most serious attention, before you have committed any fatal or irretrievable errours?
3 If, instead of exerting reflection for this valuable purpose, you deliver yourselves up, at so critical a time, to sloth. and pleasures ; if you refuse to listen to any counsellor but humour, or to attend to any pursuit except that of amusement; if you allow yourselves to float loose and careless on the tide of life, ready to receive any direction which the current of fashion may chance to give you ; what can you expect to follow froin such beginnings?
4 While so many around you, are undergoing the sad consequences of a like indiscretion, for what reason shall not those consequences extend to you? Shall you attain success without that preparation, and escape dangers without that precaution, which are required of others ? Shall happiness grow up to you, of its own accord, and solicit your acceptance, when, to the rest of mankind, it is the fruit of long cultivation, and the acquisition of labour and care?
5 Deceive not yourselves with those arrogant hopes.-Whatever be your rank, Providence will not, for your sake, reverse its established order. The Author of your being hath enjoined you to“ take heed to your ways; to ponder the paths of your feet ; to remember your Creator in the days of your youth.”
Ổ He hath decreed, that they only “who seek after wis
dom, 'shall find it; that fools shall be afflicted, because of their transgressions ; and that whosoever refuseth instruction, shall destroy his own soul.” By listening to these admonitions, and ternpering the vivacity of youth with a proper mixture of serious thought, you may ensure cheerfulness for the rest of life; but by delivering yourselves up at present to giddiness and levity, you lay the foundation of lasting heaviness of heart.
7 When you look forward to those plans of life, which either your circumstances have suggested, or your friends have proposed, you will not hesitate to acknowledge, that in order to pursue them with advantage, some previous discipline is requisite. Be assured, that whatever is to be vour profession, no education is more necessary to your success, than the acquirement of virtuous dispositions and habits.This is the universal preparation for every character, and every station in life.
8 Bad as the world is, respect is always paid to virtue. In the usual course of human affairs, it will be found, that a plain understanding, joines with acknowledged worth, contributes more to prosperity, than the brightest parts without probity or honour. Whether science or business, or public life, be your aim, virtue still enters, for a principal share, into all those great departments of society. It is connected with eminence, in every liberal art; with reputation, in every branch of fair and useful business ; with distinction, in every public station.
9 The vigour which it gives the mind, and the weight which it adds to character; the generous sentiments which it breathes ; the undaunted spirit which it inspires ; the ardour of diligence which it quickens; the freedom which it procures from pernicious and dishonourable avocations; are the foundations of all that is highly honourable, or greatly successful among men.
10 Whatever ornamental or engaging endowments you now possess, virtue is a necessary requisitc, in order to their shining with proper lustre. Feable are the attractions of the fairest form, if it be suspected that nothing within, corresponds to the pleasing appearance without. Short are the triumphs of wit, when it is supposed to be the vehicle of ma
JI By whatever means you may at first attract the attention, you can hold the esteem, and secure the hearts of others, only by amiable dispositions, and the accomplishments of the mind. These are the qualities whose influence will last, when the lustre of all that once sparkled and dazzled has passed away.